It happens here: Consumer-centric Innovation in Charlotte and beyond

2-minute mindmap – Charlotte Mission Possible edition by Nheeda Enriquez

I just realized I missed the deadline for entries after I got around to creating a mindmap for the Mission Possible project, so I guess I’ll post it here.  Maybe there’s a nugget of an idea in there somewhere for the folks who didn’t procrastinate like I unfortunately did.

In my original conversation with Steve Gunn, we talked about how framing a problem in a specific way makes it easier to solve.  In this case, a smaller, yet very real problem in the area of charitable needs is not actually getting more volunteers, but rather, how might we get them to commit their time consistently?

click for larger

click for larger

The Charlotte Observer wants to figure out how to make newspapers new again by Nheeda Enriquez
flickr photo credit: jeku arce

flickr photo credit: jeku arce

My original purpose for meeting up with Steve Gunn, the Charlotte Observer’s Innovation Editor, was to learn more about Mission Possible, the project that his paper spearheaded to find innovative ways to meet the city’s charitable needs through crowdsourcing.   Instead, what I discovered is that this project is just one of many in his attempts to keep the Observer relevant in an era of dying newspapers.

Gunn mentioned that the paper’s readership is growing thanks to the web, but the whole industry is on the hunt for ways to convert new readers into loyal ones, particularly since content is now aggregated through or onto other sites.  Mission Possible, aside from being a philanthropic effort, is also a living, breathing experiment on how this paper might collaborate with other outlets: TV, radio, papers, web, and across counties, languages, and service providers.   They expect to learn and adapt throughout this process, and put the learnings into use for future programs.

It’s been a while since I’d been in a newsroom, and I had forgotten how “creative” these spaces have always been…Desks strewn with visual stimuli in a highly collaborative environment of ordered chaos.  Gunn’s office was no exception, complete with well-traveled trinkets and a full case of Diet Pepsi.  He reminded me that the staff is “very comfortable with messy” and previewed for me an innovative new service they’ll be piloting soon, so look for that on the Observer online in a few weeks!

Charlotte’s Mission Possible uses crowdsourcing to solve a local problem by Nheeda Enriquez
logo via missionpossible

logo via missionpossible

If you haven’t caught it already, a local media coalition under the umbrella name Mission Possible is collecting public ideas to answer the growing need of charitable groups feeling the pressure of a challenged economy.  Soliciting ideas from a local constituency is not necessarily a new concept, and it definitely falls in the category of crowdsourcing.  Even the Obama administration has been putting structures in place to ensure the transparency of their multiple agendas.  Leveraging the collective wisdom and expertise certainly can’t hurt, especially in a time when more radical thinking is required.  From the website, some of the areas they’re exploring are:

  • New ways to conduct fundraising
  • New ways to administer programs
  • New ways to let individual citizens make a difference through volunteering
  • New ways that an individual personally could make a difference
  • New ways to use technology to help meet charitable needs
  • New ways for potential donors to learn of charitable needs and what assistance is needed
  • Wholesale changes in how charitable needs are met

Start by submitting your thoughts and ideas here. (Via Charlotte’s own innovation connector, Edison Nation)