Weatherhead School of Management leads global brainstorm

The world has been challenged to an online brainstorm.

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

This question was posted as a challenge on OpenIDEO, a popular crowdsourcing website that encourages individuals to share ideas and then generate an online discussion on the chosen topic. OpenIDEO is an outgrowth of IDEO, a global design firm that takes a humanistic, design-based approach to help public and private organizations innovate and grow.

The OpenIDEO challenge process invites open sharing contributors to be “co-designers of something that can be truly world-changing,” explained David Cooperrider, faculty director at The Fowler Center and Fairmount Minerals Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at the Weatherhead School.

The Fowler Center’s challenge started Sept. 18 and ends Thursday. “Winning concepts” will be selected based on their exemplification of The Fowler Center’s mission to lead managers to embed sustainability in the core of business, creating value for society. At the start of the month, the contest already had generated more than 500 responses from 90 nations, from people involved in global organizations and businesses big and small, Cooperrider said 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 observations, photos, videos, sketches or even business models. Sometimes, one idea becomes the basis of another, just as when people within an organization gather to brainstorm together on a shared task.

One concept in The Fowler Center’s challenge was a Masters 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 to identify businesses that are innovating for world benefit; then each year, a selection committee would choose a recipient of the World Benefit Prize.

The Weatherhead School’s Fowler Center OpenIDEO challenge was developed to 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 said.

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