View all modules About the Innovation Skills Accelerator About the Office of Innovation Contact us




In the Collective Intelligence Learning Module, we’re going to look at using new technologies for defining problems collaboratively. Specifically, we’re going to explore how to undertake such collaboration efficiently and effectively and by tapping into people’s expertise both to define the problem and to devise innovative solutions. By the end of this module, we hope you will be able to: 1) understand why and when it is crucial to use collective intelligence to define and to solve problems; 2) describe a range of methods by which collective intelligence is being used in the public sector, including open innovation, collaboration and co-creation; 3) understand and apply key considerations for designing an effective open innovation project; and, 4) anticipate and mitigate common pitfalls when using open innovation to solve a public problem.

Download the worksheets for this module here.


Challenge Prizes: A Practice Guide

Perrie Ballantyne



Developed in collaboration with Nesta’s Centre for Challenge Prizes, and with the support of the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), this practice guide explains to readers how challenges work and helps them through the steps of launching their own challenges. It highlights the benefits of challenge prizes and shares insights from Nesta’s Centre for Challenge Prizes which works to study and design challenges.

Read the full article here.

'And the Winner Is...': Philanthropists and Governments Make Prizes Count

McKinsey & Company


This resource is a short introduction into a much more extensive report, both of which address how to develop and deliver effective prizes and rewards. McKinsey’s research has found that prizes are a unique and powerful tool that should be in the basic toolkit of many of today’s philanthropists. Thus, this article briefly defines prizes, and suggests when they work best and the best practices for designing them. Then, the full report draws, “on academic literature, interviews with analysts and practitioners, surveys of prize sponsors and competitors, databases of small and large awards, and case studies of 12 effective prizes to produce lessons from a range of sectors, goals, and prize types.”

Read the full article here.

Open Innovation: Practices to Engage Citizens and Effectively Implement Federal Initiatives

U.S Government Accountability Office


The U.S. Government Accountability Office conducted a study of 15 open innovation initiatives at six selected agencies and identified seven practices that agencies can use to effectively implement initiatives that involve the use of various open innovation strategies. Readers can easily go through the highlights offered by the GAO from their study, or delve into the much more comprehensive report.

Read the full article here.

Governing through Prizes and Challenges

Stefaan Verhulst and Andrew Young

The GovLab


This blog post introduces the concept of challenges with a reference to President Obama’s “Grand Challenge” to source new and innovative ways to fight Ebola. The authors then examine how to maximize the potential of using such methods for effective problem-solving. After distinguishing between “prizes” and “challenges,” they explain what works in each situation and answer a handful of anticipated questions those who are planning to design a challenge or prize might have.

Read the full article here.


Thumbnail of video titled Insight: Ideas for Change - Open Innovation - Henry Chesbrough
Insight: Ideas for Change - Open Innovation - Henry Chesbrough

Henry Chesbrough

World Economic Forum

This video features Professor Soumitra Dutta interviewing Henry Chesbrough on the concept for which he is best known and largely credited for coining: open innovation. Chesbrough defines open innovation as the idea that corporations and organizations should make much greater use of external ideas and technologies, reducing costs and time spent in research and, more crucially, making unused innovations more accessible to external users.

Watch the full video here.

Thumbnail of video titled Open Innovation 02 - What is “open innovation
Open Innovation 02 - What is “open innovation"?

Klaster LifeScience Kraków

This enjoyable, animated video explores open innovation by comparing it to the opposite concept of closed innovation. The video defines each of the ideas along with their mechanics, using illustrative real life examples to demonstrate the value of open innovation.

Watch the full video here.

Thumbnail of video titled Insight: Ideas for Change - Open Innovation - Henry Chesbrough
The Era of Open Innovation

Charles Leadbeater

TED Global

Leading with the example of the invention of the mountain bike, in this TED talk, Charles Leadbeater explains how useful open innovation can be. He suggests how it enables creativity, emphasizes its relationship with technology, and highlights how this model turns, “users into producers, and consumers into designers.”

Watch the full video here.



Select the best answer:

The underlying philosophy of open innovation approaches is that they recognize that:

Correct! Whether they are across the hall or around the globe, domain experts or residents, open innovation helps us tap into the knowledge and experiences of a wider group of people to better understand and solve problems.

Unfortunately, that’s not correct. Hint: It doesn’t matter where the intelligence is coming from as long as it is useful in relation to the problem we’re trying to solve.


Select all that apply:

Crowdsourcing is a way of accessing collective intelligence that has been defined as an open call to assist with a task traditionally done by employees alone. A useful form of crowdsourcing for situations when the skills needed to develop a solution are unclear is called __________ - based approach.

Correct! Challenges - or contests - set out the nature of the problem and invite people to find ways to solve it. It is a way to leverage the ingenuity of others in assembling the right combination of people and technologies that enable better responses to problems.

Sorry, that’s incorrect. Hint: If we don’t know what the right capabilities needed to solve a problem are then we need to set this hard task for others.


True or False:
What distinguishes collaboration from co-creation as a type of collective intelligence is that the former is more focused on marshalling the efforts of a community with a common vision, whereas the latter is more about generating many diverse responses to a question.

That’s right! As we discussed Wikipedia is a good example of Collaboration where a community of users and editors work to a common vision of high quality information. Local Motors on the other hand sought to Co-Create many different new car designs by coordinating the work of many people.

Sorry, that’s not it.

You're right but there's more to this answer. Please try again!


Select the correct answer:

If the first thing to be done in designing an open innovation exercise is to define a clear and compelling goal that describes success, then the next thing to do is to clearly determine the _________ needed to help you understand or solve the problem:

That’s it! We have to be clear about who is in a position to supply the kind of input we need - will it be domain experts, people with lived experience of the problem, people within a certain age bracket or geographic area? Understanding the audience and targeted communication that encourages that audience to participate is crucial.

Sorry, that’s incorrect. Hint: Next we need to think about where the skills, knowledge or capacity we need resides.


Select all that apply:

The tasks that we can ask people to undertake in an open innovation process include:

Correct! All of these things can be undertaken by “the crowd.” Which ones we choose depend on what tasks elicit the kind of input we need. So a hackathon might be a good way to get feasible ideas from a smaller, more knowledgeable group in a short space of time, and crowdfunding might suit situations where a bigger audience can be encouraged to make smaller financial contributions that can add up to a large amount.

Sorry, that’s incorrect. There’s more we can ask people.

You're right but there's more to this answer. Please try again!


Select the best answer:

No matter the task we ask of people in an open innovation exercise, it is important that we are sure people are ________ and know _______ to participate:

That’s right! It sounds simple but there’s nothing worse than setting up an open innovation project and encouraging people to participate only to get a poor turnout because of barriers such as lack of access to technology or jargonistic language that makes it hard for people to understand what is required of them. Requiring people to identify themselves can be important in some processes (e.g. where it is important that someone is a resident) but if we are just seeking good ideas it doesn’t need to be a requirement.

Sorry, that’s not it. Here we’re looking to ensure we remove the most practical barriers to participation.

You're right but there's more to this answer. Please try again!


True or False:

To incentivize participation in our open innovation exercise, research suggests financial incentives work best.

Correct! The research suggests non-financial incentives work best. These can include appeals to people’s sense of civic responsibility, public recognition, a sense of really making a difference, and the opportunity to build new skills. Finding the incentives that will motivate your audience to contribute is crucial to generating good inputs.

Sorry, that’s not it.

You're right but there's more to this answer. Please try again!


Select the best answer:

Ann is designing an open innovation exercise where the public is being asked to submit ideas for how a local park should be upgraded for surrounding neighborhoods. It has been a topic of public discussion for some time, and there are different views within the community about what type of upgrade should be done. Ann expects various community groups, and possibly thousands of residents, to come forward with many different ideas. For at least a first stage evaluation of the ideas, Ann should strongly consider:

That’s right! Ann could ask the people in the affected neighbourhoods to “vote” for their favorite ideas as a way to both manage the high volume of ideas and to improve the chances of identifying ideas that will enjoy broad community support. In further stages, Ann could consider using other forms of evaluation, such as asking technical experts to screen out ideas that aren’t feasible.

Sorry, that’s not what we are looking for here. Hint: Given the issue has some controversy attached, Ann needs to maximize transparency and participation.

You're right but there's more to this answer. Please try again!


Select the best answer:

When creating an implementation plan for an open innovation exercise it's vital that we identify who will ultimately _________ the input to ensure the exercise delivers tangible benefits.

Correct! We need to be sure there is someone in our organization who will take ownership of and apply what we have learned from participants. If we don’t we risk creating processes that waste resources and discourage future participation.

Sorry, that’s not we are after here. Hint: Remember that a key incentive for people to participate in an open innovation exercise is that their input will make a difference. That means we need to do something with it.

You're right but there's more to this answer. Please try again!


Select the incorrect answer:

Open innovation exercises are best suited to circumstances when:

That’s right! It can be easy to be attracted to the growing popularity of open innovation exercises but if we use them at the wrong time we can create financial and reputational risks for our organization.

Sorry, that’s not it. This is one of the criteria for when an open innovation exercise can be a good choice for helping you to better understand or solve a problem.

You're right but there's more to this answer. Please try again!