AboutGroupidea Logo

What is Groupidea?

A web app for collective innovation that enables users and organizations to effectively analyze problems, define objectives, brainstorm for actions to take (share ideas), and build a knowledge base of identified problems and existing solutions.

Groupidea introduces a new way to break down problems and goals (quests) through tree diagrams that interconnect to form a vast network of quests and solutions. It facilitates the innovation process through a structured and yet flexible visual approach.

Who is Groupidea for?

You can use Groupidea privately or publicly, for personal projects, within groups at your organization or university, or openly with the world (for internal or open innovation).

We believe that diversity is key to innovation. Therefore, we hope to inspire individuals from various professions and origins to join forces in innovating for the betterment of society.

Companies, NGO's, nonprofits, government agencies, public offices, educational institutions, and other organizations are encouraged to make Groupidea's quests their own, take actions to achieve them, and share the insights (either privately or publicly). Whether it is the quest to Ensure Eradication of Extreme Poverty, a quest to improve a given product, or many others, Groupidea's collaborators can help your organization, just as your organization's quests can help achieve a better world.

Is it Free to Join?

Yes! It is free to join. You can use multiple features of Groupidea for free, and a few others are paid. For details see the pricing page.

How Do Organizations Benefit?

Groupidea can be used internally and/or openly by organizations to:

  • Effectively communicate the organization's objectives or goals, the solutions (initiatives, products and services) already implemented, and their impact on a larger scale.
  • Discover new ideas that the organization can apply, which may come from current or future employees, clients, partners, or others. You can use Groupidea as a suggestion box on steroids (it adds structure and aim).
  • Build a knowledge base of identified problems and existing solutions that will help you spend time moving forward and not reinventing the wheel.

Are There Rewards for Collaborators?

In Private Groups:

It's entirely up to the group's administrator(s). Currently, Groupidea does not facilitate rewards, and cannot be held accountable for any reward offered by third parties.

In Public Quests:

Through Groupidea, you can help solve real world problems that affect the lives of many people, including yours. Beyond that satisfaction, we hope that your contributions (shown on your profile) will gain you recognition, and will help open doors for you, such as new job opportunities.

As you contribute quality content, you can earn badges and editing privileges. Your profile may also be featured. This is just the beginning. As we develop the community, we will keep looking for ways to reward your contributions.

Will Ideas Be Applied Outside of Groupidea?

That's what we aim for! Organizations are encouraged to apply ideas posted on Groupidea. After they take action, they can post the results back on Groupidea as "implemented solutions" and give credits to collaborators.

Who Owns the Intellectual Property?

For Content Submitted in Private Groups:

Group administrators may define their own policies regarding intellectual property.

For Content Submitted Publicly:

Inventions published on Groupidea may or may not be protected by patents. Inventors wishing to obtain a patent should file for protection before disclosing the invention through Groupidea, as the current laws of the United States and many other countries may limit patentability in cases where the invention is publicly disclosed before filing.

Groupidea's user generated text content can be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Share-Alike license (CC-BY-SA). On the other hand, user contributed images can be subject to other copyright licenses, as specified on the page of each image.

The system used by Groupidea's platform to break down, store, and display quests is patent pending.

How is Content Quality Achieved?

For Content Submitted in Private Groups:

Group administrators can give editing privileges to some group members, and can define "Member Guidelines" for the group.

For Content Submitted Publicly:

Users gain privileges (like the ability to post more quests or edit content) based on the quality of their earlier contributions, as rated by community editors. Guidelines for collaborators serve as a reference for editing content.

The Groupidea team is involved in the editing process to fine-tune the guidelines and reputation system. Additionally, Groupidea requires public collaborators to connect a LinkedIn account for screening purposes.

Can One Submit Quests and Solutions on Any Subject?

For Private Groups:

Yes. Otherwise, the group's administrator may specify the subjects allowed in the group's description.

For Public Content:

As a general guide to kick start the community, we encourage users to post quests and solutions related to any of these quests: Ensure Environmental Sustainability, Reduce Incidence of Diseases, Achieve Universal Primary Education, Ensure Eradication of Extreme Poverty, Ensure the Right to Adequate Food, Ensure Universal Access to Drinking Water, Ensure the Right to Adequate Housing, and Reduce Death Toll from Natural Disasters. Quest and solutions can also be posted on topics that include reducing the number of fatalities in accidents, and increasing quality of life in sustainable ways.

Given the way things interconnect, there is a universe under those quests that touches every industry. If you want to post a quest or solution on a different topic, you can suggest it. In general, we will feature the quests and solutions that are the most innovative, and/or have greater social or environmental impact.

What is a Quest?

Common definitions of "quest" include: "a long search for something", "an adventurous expedition", and "a goal or target." At Groupidea, we think of a "quest" in all those terms but mainly as "a goal or target". Additionally, on Groupidea ideas and actions are also expressed as quests. For example: "Enable Adoption of Airbag for Cyclists." We structure quests in a specific way as explained in the below section What's innovative about Groupidea?

What is an Implementation?

On Groupidea, an Implementation can be a product, service, initiative, or other solution that's implemented to tackle a quest. In public and global quests, implementations must be creative and/or must have made significant impact on achieving a better world. Also, it must be a specific solution (e.g. ACME Model X Electric Car), not a generic one (e.g. Electric Car).

What are Problem Trees and Objective Trees?

A "Problem Tree" is a graphical representation of a problem with 3 parts: a trunk (the core problem), the roots (representing the causes) and the branches (representing the effects). Project planners typically use it to understand the problem's context, before they set out a plan to solve the problem.

An "Objective Tree" has the same structure as the Problem Tree, but transforms problem statements into objective statements (means and ends). For example:

Problem Tree vs. Objective Tree

Groupidea's approach allows mapping a problem's causes and effects as well its objectives counterparts, just as the Problem Tree and Objective Tree representations do. However, Groupidea's approach is more powerful because it allows changing the viewpoint (the core problem) from one problem to any other. By simply clicking on any problem on a tree, you can open a new page to see that problem's causes and effects. This is possible because Groupidea uses a graph data structure to store problems and objectives.

Moreover, Groupidea enables effective online crowd collaboration to break down problems and objectives, which takes the analysis or brainstorming to a whole new level.

To learn more, read the following references: SSWM's "Problem Tree Analysis" and USAID's "Problem Trees and Objective Trees".

What's innovative about Groupidea?

It Combines the Powers of Trees and Graphs to Facilitate Innovation

Compared to status quo idea management software, Groupidea facilitates the analysis (break down) of problems and goals in a structured yet flexible visual way, which makes it easier to come up with ideas to implement. By the same token, it enables finding ideas and solutions by objectives, which makes it easier to evaluate them.

Compared to mind mapping software (which use tree data structures, and are not effective for crowd collaboration), Groupidea offers unprecedented flexibility to interconnect things because it stores data in a graph data structure. You can connect a problem with any number of causes or effects (or an objective with any number of means and ends). Groupidea is also a tool for true crowd collaboration, allowing collaborators to keep track of the actions of every user.

Groupidea Directed Graph and Tree Data Structure

It Enables Breaking Down Problems into the Key Components

Groupidea introduces a novel way to break down each problem into "quests." Each quest is made of an "Objective" and a "Factor." For example, the quest "Reduce Car Traffic Congestion" is composed of the Objective "Reduce" and the Factor "Car Traffic Congestion."

Factors are similar to variables in a mathematical problem. By asking for the "Ways to Reduce Car Traffic Congestion?" we can break down the previous quest into: "Reduce Car Traffic Demand" and "Increase Road Capacity," which are themselves quests that can be broken down further.

Groupidea allows many collaborators to take part in coming up with Ways to achieve any given quest.

It Makes It Possible for a Quest to be a "Way" but also an "Effect"

Just like in the real world, where a problem may be the cause or the effect of another problem, each Groupidea quest can be a "Way" to achieve another quest, and/or an "Effect" of achieving another quest. For example, the quest "Reduce Car Traffic Congestion" is a Way to "Ensure Environmental Sustainability," but is also an Effect of "Increasing Percentage of People Working from Home."

We take the notion that "answers lead to more questions" a step further. To foster brainstorming at every level, we express each idea (or way to achieve something) in the form of a quest.

It Enables Creating a Vast Graph of Quests and Makes It Easy to Navigate

The interconnections of the various quests form a vast graph similar to the interconnected problems of the real world. However, navigating through that graph is seamless on Groupidea. All the Ways to achieve any given quest are displayed in a tree diagram, while all the Effects are displayed in another tree diagram, eliminating the clutter typically found in large deeply interconnected graph data structures.

Moreover, each and every Effect and Way is itself a quest, which can be viewed and expanded on a page of its own by simply clicking on it. When a quest has too many Ways or Effects to display on a single page, one can simply expand the outer branches of the tree diagram on other pages.

It Allows You to Ponder the Effects of Doing the Opposite

On Groupidea each quest has an opposite. Only the Objectives differ between opposite quests. For example, the quest "Reduce Car Traffic Congestion" has the opposite "Increase Car Traffic Congestion." While achieving the opposite quest may have mostly negative Effects, there may be some positive Effects as well, which is why it is also possible to view the Ways and Effects of the opposite quest.

For example, "Increasing Car Traffic Congestion" may have the positive Effect of "Increasing the Number of Listeners of Educational Radio Programs". Between any two opposite quests, the one with more Likes (considered the best one to achieve a better world) can easily be identified in tree diagrams as it is highlighted in green, while its opposite is highlighted in red.

It Enables Local Action Through Global Quests

At Groupidea, collaborators cannot only enter quests, but also implemented solutions (a.k.a. "implementations"). Certain public quests are required to maintain a "global/generic scope" (e.g. the quest "Reduce Car Traffic Congestion" is allowed, but "Reduce Car Traffic Congestion in New York" is not allowed). On the other hand, implemented solutions are required to maintain a "local/specific scope" (e.g. the implemented solutions "ACME Model X Electric Car" is valid, but "Electric Car" is not). Consequently, while each implemented solution is linked to a specific organization (the implementor), each quest can typically apply to multiple organizations. This ensures that all solutions to a common quest are entered in one place, and are not scattered across multiple equivalent quests.

At the same time, users can still link relevant organizations to each quest to help organizations discover new insights, and take local action. Organizations can also see how many users have voted for the organization to tackle any given quest.

Private Information Security

Groupidea implements the latest security standards to ensure thatonly authorized users get access to private information, including: SSL (encrypted communications), authentication system with password encoding, protection against cross-site request forgery, signed URLs for private image files, and protected Amazon Web Services storage.

Guidelines for Public Collaborators

While anyone can start exploring Groupidea right away, collaborators of public content should do a few things before making their first contribution:

  • Get familiarized with Groupidea's content by navigating various quests, Implemented Solutions, and Images. You can start by looking at the quest: "Ensure Environmental Sustainability."
  • Read this "About" page.
  • Before you post something with a form, read the instructions that are usually included by clicking on the icon next to the title of each input field.
  • Remember that each quest and Implementation must be unique (do not enter a quest or Implementation that uses slightly different words to an existing one, but is otherwise equivalent).
  • Remember that you must select 2 Objectives when you post a new quest: first, the Objective you like the most, and second its opposite (e.g. Reduce/Increase Car Traffic Congestion).
  • Before adding Ways or Effects to a quest, think of how to best break down the quest into the key factors involved. Avoid including Ways that do not have a significant impact on the quest. Do not enter all the Ways as a list unless it makes sense; remember that you can create a tree structure by entering a Way as a child of another Way, or an Effect of another Effect. For example, instead of adding "Increase Number of Lanes of a Road" directly as a Way to "Reduce Car Traffic Congestion," add it as a Way to "Increase Road Capacity," which is itself a Way to "Reduce Car Traffic Congestion."
  • Whenever possible, use common patterns in quest titles, such as: Enable/Prevent Adoption of… (e.g. Enable Adoption of Airbag for Cyclist).
  • Public quests should have a specific aim (e.g. Increase Comfort of a Bicycle Seat). Vague open-ended quests, such as those starting with "Achieve a Better…" (e.g. Achieve a Better Bicycle Seat) are not currently allowed to discourage user from adding trivial quests, and encourage them to analyze the underlying factors affecting each and every quest.

Credits to Open-Source Software Communities

Groupidea is all about open innovation and open collaboration, not only because its public content is user generated, but also because it allows organizations to reach out to external innovators.

In addition, Groupidea’s platform would not have been possible without the extensive use of Open-Source Software, which is developed and tested through the open collaboration of hundreds of programmers from across the world. With the following list, Groupidea gives credits and makes a pledge to contribute to these software development initiatives over the years ahead:

Backbone.js, ElasticSearch, Font Awesome, jQuery (+ Form, NiceFileInput and Tokeninput plugins), Linux, NGINX, PHP, PostgreSQL, RequireJS, Symfony, and Twitter Bootstrap.