Firm Follows Form

Organisation Design Blog by Nathan Waterhouse

open innovation

February 25, 2014

Collaborating to eradicate global poverty

In 2011, Sarah Fathallah, a consultant in Washington DC shared an idea to improve the health of low-income communities with no healthcare infrastructure on She could not have known at the time, but months later, this idea would be picked up by a team of doctors and development experts in Caldas, Colombia and brought – Read More –

July 3, 2013

How to nurture & design your community

With so much of the interaction online being centered around its social nature, I’ve been wondering ‘can you design a community?’ When we first designed we began with some design principles to help steer our decisions. They included things like: optimism, being inclusive, etc. A big surprise to us was that, as time went by, those principles translated into community behaviour, which was immensely gratifying for us to see. Those principles informed how we designed the user experience, but also ended up being the beginnings of how we would recruit new team members, and informed our ongoing strategy as a team.

Building off those guiding principles and learning from some of the impact that the community has created – often spawning new physical communities like MiLES has done (transforming disused storefronts in New York and their neighbourhoods) here’s some initial thoughts on some principles for nurturing existing and designing new communities. My question for you: what’s missing? Do these translate to physical community creation as well as the online world?

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May 28, 2013

6 Ways to Amplify your Community’s Potential

Whether you are a CEO, a manager leading a team to create change in an organisation, or a community leader, try thinking about these six approaches to make the most of your community’s potential to do good.

Just as machines have amplified our individual ability to create, the internet is enabling us to amplify our collective potential to create impact. I hear of many community leaders from CEOs to scout leaders wanting to make the most of social media and the internet to meet their goals. Here’s six ways that successful community leaders maximise their impact. – Read More –

May 9, 2012

Communities: It’s not always about size, but about depth

Many online communities parade their community size stats as if it were the only measure of success. As a result it’s easy to think that’s the most important metric for every community. This can trip you up, and force you to chase the wrong goals. For some communities, size isn’t the most important metric. Take OpenIDEO for instance, sure at some point we knew that global participation was important, and you need to maintain a balance between different kinds of community members (we value diversity or participation), but we’ve learned in the last year that encouraging smart, active, and engaged participants is vital to the success of the social challenges that we run. That’s the reason why last year we were delighted to hear from Tracy Brandenburg, professor at Wells College in New York. She wrote to us to tell us the story about how she had been using the OpenIDEO food challenge we ran with the Queensland Government as the backbone to her design course. We quickly got her on the phone and we learned that she had asked her students to go above and beyond what regular participants do. Here’s Tracy talking about the task she set her students:

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May 22, 2011

A Perfect Match – A Social Media Love Story

I just had the honor of presenting one of our most recent OpenIDEO challenges and representing the Stanford Haas Center and the amazing 100kCheeks student team alongside Jennifer Aaker. The challenge focussed on how to increase the number of ‘cheeks’ in the bone marrow registry. This is something that is a massive issue, especially for – Read More –

February 19, 2011

Make an impact on Bone Marrow Donation

OpenIDEO’s latest challenge is a partnership with Stanford’s Haas Center and an inspiring group of students running an initiative called 100kCheeks. Bone Marrow Donation is a complex problem: although there are national Bone Marrow Registres such as the BetheMatch US site, it’s still hard for many people to find a match who desperately require a transplant in – Read More –