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 ethnic minority groups throughout the world. For example, if you’re caucasian in the US, your chance is 80% of finding a donor match. However, if you’re south asian, your chances drop to 1 in 20,000.

At the STAN11 conference, a TEDx prototype for Stanford TEDx, Jennifer and I told the story of Sameer, one of Jennifer’s students and social entrepreneur, who, whilst on vacation discovered he had Leukemia. The story is about how his friend Robert created a simple call to action and sparked a national effort to help Sameer find A Perfect Match. Sameer did find a match after his friends helped bank almost 25,000 cheeks on the registry, and the first words he said when he heard the news was ‘let’s get another 25,000!’. Sadly Sameer relapsed, struggled to fight the cancer but passed away some months later.

Thanks to the efforts of his friends, he sparked a movement. The story of Sameer inspired Jennifer Aaker and her husband Andy Smith to write a book ‘The Dragonfly Effect‘, a wonderful guide for how individuals, organizations, and companies can use social media to propel change. Jennifer reached out to ask for help to her students to help take Sameer’s request of another 25,000 cheeks – and to double the overall goal – 100,000 cheeks. A core group of students responded and began to search for innovative ways of reaching that goal. One of the things they did was reach out to OpenIDEO, with the support of the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford. In February this year we began a challenge and with another simple call to action began the OpenIDEO process to help find innovative ways to make impact in the cause of bone and blood cancer.

The challenge got an amazing response from our 15,000 strong community. In 11 weeks, the community were inspired by this story and created hundreds of amazing inspirations and concepts that spanned everything from helping to educate people about the problem, to making it part of the process for applying for a driving licence, to creating mobile apps that make it really easy to create your own donor drive. You can check out all the winning concepts here.

We’ve always been focussed on making impact with OpenIDEO challenges, and that’s why we recently created the Realisation phase. Thanks to this new feature, you can now keep track of how the concepts are becoming real. It’s only been a few weeks since the Bone Marrow challenge finished, but already a lot of the ideas have been taken up by different teams. You can read more about the progress here.

The final video of the talk we gave will be up soon, so watch out for an update. In the meantime check out the presentation below, or click through to the full deck to download it.

You can help us make a massive dent in this problem, 100kCheeks has provided some simple tools here


View the Presentation