Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management leads global brainstorm

Crowdsourcing site OpenIDEO seeks wide-ranging concepts on business as agent for world benefit

News Release: Wednesday, November 28, 2012

CLEVELAND – The world has been challenged to an online brainstorm.

The Fowler Center for Sustainable Value at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management this fall has been gathering ideas from across the globe for this question: How might we identify and celebrate businesses that innovate for world benefit – and inspire other companies to do the same?

The question was posted on OpenIDEO, a popular crowdsourcing website that encourages people to share ideas, with the entire world serving as the meeting room. The purpose is to generate an online discussion focused on the chosen topic, in this case doing business for world benefit.

The OpenIDEO challenge process involves open sharing as "co-designers of something that can be truly world-changing," explains Weatherhead Management Professor David Cooperrider, faculty director at The Fowler Center. Cooperrider is Fairmount Minerals Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at Weatherhead School of Management.

The Fowler Center's challenge started Sept. 18 and ends Thursday, Nov. 29, with selection of “winning concepts” exemplifying The Fowler Center’s mission to lead managers to embed sustainability in core business, creating value for business and society.

As November began, the center's challenge had more than 500 responses (classified as 455 inspirations and 95 concepts) from 90 nations, from people involved in global organizations and businesses big and small, Cooperrider says in a video The Fowler Center posted on OpenIDEO.

After any challenge is posted at, design phases – inspiration, concepting and evaluation – take shape. Participants are urged to contribute their ideas in various ways, such as observation, photos or videos, sketches, even business models. Sometimes, one idea becomes the basis of another, just as when people within an organization gather to brainstorm on a shared task.

For example, one concept in The Fowler Center’s challenge was a Master's of World Benefit graduate degree program. Another was called World Benefit Compass, an online platform based on the premise that small steps can be guided to big changes through sustainable value innovation.

An OpenIDEO participant proposed a think tank to nurture world benefit technologies. Another brainstormed idea was to create, through Wikipedia, a Wiki for Business World Benefit to allow anyone a chance to identify businesses that are innovating for world benefit; then each year, a selection committee would choose recipient of the World Benefit Prize.

OpenIDEO is an outgrowth of IDEO (pronounced “eye-dee-oh”), a global design firm that takes a humanistic, design-based approach to help public and private organizations innovate and grow. OpenIDEO is a platform for creative thinkers worldwide, from entry-level employees to top-line managers.

Weatherhead's Fowler Center OpenIDEO challenge was presented build on the concepts that Case Western Reserve management students learn are keys to doing well by doing good.

"Business has the opportunity to be one of the most creative forces on the planet, and the 21st century can become an unprecedented century of sustainable value innovation where businesses can excel, people can thrive, and nature can flourish,” Cooperrider says.

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Posted by: Marvin Kropko, November 28, 2012 05:33 PM | News Topics: Official Release