How Many Solvers Are Enough?
Updated: Jan 13
We are about half-way through the first batch of humanitarian challenges for Habitat for Humanity (www.habitat.org) and World Vision (www.worldvision.org) where SeaFreight Labs is serving as Project Advisor (read my prior blog entries for more information on the specifics of the challenges or read their summaries HERE). Across the four challenges, we have had over 800 registered users from over 60 countries with over 90 submissions (counts thru 11 December). The question on everyone’s mind is ‘Are there enough solvers to have confidence that we will have a great solution to each of our problems?’. This blog entry explores this topic.
Figure 1 shows the growth in registered users on each of the challenges since they launched. The Habitat for Humanity challenge looking for ways to make homes with no foundations more typhoon- and/or earthquake-resilient (blue line / CLICK HERE) launched on 7 October and the World Vision challenge seeking low-cost chlorine monitoring for rural piped-water systems (red line / CLICK HERE) launched on 4 November. All have benefited from similar promotion efforts.
Three of the four challenges are behaving in a similar manner while the World Vision challenge seeking ideas for affordable rural single-family sanitation solutions (yellow line / CLICK HERE) is attracting significantly more solver registrations. At the present time, there is no way to know if this surplus of registered solvers will lead to a bonanza of useful submissions.
Aside from a simple count of the registered solvers, it is interesting to note the geographic diversity of the group. Given that each of the challenges is humanitarian in nature, one would wish for a geographically diverse set of solvers to benefit from diverse thinking from around the world about a universal problem. On this front, each challenge is doing quite well. The challenge with the most registered solvers has registrants from 60 countries (see Figure 2 where the circle size represents the number of registered solvers from that region). No country represents more than 15% of the total. There are actually registered solvers from every inhabited continent. Again, there is no way to know if this diversity will lead to one or more valuable submissions.
Open innovation has two main benefits for every organization that uses it: 1) expanding the number of people thinking about a problem; and 2) expanding the diversity of the people thinking about the problem. At this mid-project checkpoint, it is certain that both Habitat for Humanity and World Vision are attracting the interest of a significant audience of geographically diverse individuals that achieve both of these deliverables. We will need to wait until each challenge ends to reveal the value of the insights of this global crowd.