Last fall, President Bill Clinton and TIME magazine named the Hult Prize one of the top five ideas changing the world, recognizing its innovative platform that engages millennials worldwide to create viable social enterprises. Since launching the Hult Prize four years ago, there has been a surge of similar idea challenges, start-up weekends, and hackathons that aim to tap the crowd for social good. More than simply crowdfunding donations or crowdsourcing volunteers, the Hult Prize and other efforts — including initiatives such as Pepsi Refresh, Ideo’s OpenIdeo challenges, JPMorgan Chase’s Technology for Social Good, and the United States’ challenge.gov — seek not money or time but rather ideas and solutions that have a positive social impact.
Whether in the private sector, academia, or government, it seems that crowdsourcing solutions is the next big thing. Even the Arab world has caught wind of crowdsourcing, and as an Arab-American I can attest that when the Arabs start doing, it is officially “big.” I was recently invited to talk to community leaders, government officials, and municipality leadership by the leading social enterprise in the Middle East, Silatech. The topic I spoke on: new and innovative models that can promote youth entrepreneurship in the Arab world. But I cautioned them that the biggest hurdle they will face with social impact crowdsourcing is not building a website or finding applicants. The key problem would-be crowdsourcers face: lack of methodology. Without a sure-fire recipe for success, initiatives run the risk of becoming a waste of time or a stale marketing program.
I am often asked about the “secret sauce” of the Hult Prize, and the answer is that crowdsourcing ideas for social good is less of an art than a science. Over the past four years, through multiple iterations, we at the Hult Prize have developed a well-defined process that we call crowdscience: a set of rules that reliably produce innovative ideas that can be implemented to solve large-scale social problems.
1. Identify a great challenge that lots of important people care about.
Written by Ahmad Ashkar, Founder and CEO of the Hult Prize. Continue reading the article in full here.