• Harry Sangree

RAMPing Up to Launch!

At SeaFreight Labs, we have spent the past weeks preparing to launch four different crowd-solving challenges from the humanitarian domain. They originate from the Philippines, India and Sub-Saharan Africa. Each problem is a long-standing issue whose solution would benefit hundreds of thousands of people. All of them are moving toward a fall 2020 launch.

The issues include: 1) Looking for ways to make houses with no foundations more earthquake-proof and typhoon-proof, for under US$300; 2) Looking for sanitation solutions that cost less than US$45 for a single family; 3) Looking for a sensor to monitor the level of free chlorine in drinking water that costs US$250 to US$500; and, 4) Looking for alternative uses for construction waste.

The preparation work to successfully launch each of these crowd-solving challenges can be organized with the acronym “RAMP”: [R]ecruiting strategy, [A]ward strategy, [M]essaging strategy, and [P]roblem definition and refinement. I will briefly explain each task in reverse order.

  • Problem definition and refinement. Everything starts with the problem. It must be a serious enough problem that a solution would be extremely beneficial. It also must be a problem that can be defined so that a Solver knows what the solution needs to look like. We have spent weeks on Zoom, with teams from around the world, working to define the essence of the problem and to agree on what we need from Solvers to actually make forward progress on solving the problem. It is demanding but exciting work.

  • Messaging strategy. Once we settled on the general terms of the problem statement, we spawned a separate team for communications-related activities. Important tasks for this group include the creation of press releases and the pavilion website from where all the challenges can be accessed. The intention of all messaging is to invite everyone possible to look at the challenge and submit a response, if they have a practical solution.

  • Award amount. The award given to the winner of a challenge is a key decision. We agreed that the awards for our upcoming challenges will be monetary and non-monetary. For each challenge, we have wrestled with the proper mix of the two and the ideal amounts. We are relying heavily on #InnoCentive’s vast experience from their over 2,400 successful challenges.

  • Recruiting strategy. The InnoCentive Solver universe of 500,000 people is an excellent starting point in the effort to find the person in the global crowd with the right background to have the unique perspective to win a challenge. However, other InnoCentive customers have learned that it is useful to cast an even wider net and involve as many organizations as possible in challenge promotion to improve the chances of finding a winner. We have spent a lot of time talking to different organizations and negotiating promotion deals that will introduce our challenges to hundreds of thousands of additional potential solvers.

The process of RAMPing up a successful challenge requires defining the desired outcome and then attracting every possible Solver to find the one or few that can deliver the needed new perspectives and insights. Keep watching for multiple launches in the coming weeks. I am excited about what will happen next!

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