Imagination for People, a collaborative platform dedicated to social innovation, unveils its newest project Assembl, a methodology and software allowing users to co-produce new ideas through large scale debate online. With this tool, Imagination for People will enable hundreds or thousands of stakeholders to come together to collectively generate new solutions to complex social issues in the form of a white paper, public policy recommendations, collective opinion paper, advanced toolkit, analytical model etc.
While software that allows many different people to work simultaneously on a deliverable has existed for a while now, Assembl applies a new methodology to the process.
It consists of a semi-structured approach that creates an evolving discussion that is continually being validated by participants. It also allows for the development of a Mind Map of concepts that is gradually structured by “harvesters”, people in charge of extracting key content from unstructured threads in a forum.
This represents a stark contrast to the traditional forum structure of linear, chronological discussion that often leads to informational duplicates, groupthink, shallow contributions, poor idea evaluation, etc.
How it works
The methodology is more specifically based around the idea that the implementation of three types of facilitators within a work group can develop a much richer collaborative experience for the participants:
1. The Orchestrators - the people who help formulate the problem, determine the type of deliverable that will be created, set up the pace and decide the constitution of the workgroup (open, semi-open, closed; small, medium, large; with or without deadlines, etc.)
2. The Harvesters- individuals who recognize the key ideas from each thread that are necessary for structuring the table of contents of the linear forum-like discussion
3. The Wrappers- individuals who create summaries of the key ideas and submit the syntheses to the group for “rough consensus” or line-by-line voting
These three roles provide structure to the discussion, allowing all participants, regardless of their level of attention, to get an overview of the debate and easily navigate the contributions. The software will also create a visual representation of the findings through the use of cognitive maps ; a clickable map that assigns a symbol to each of the key themes.
“The number of organizations and networks that need to mobilize their stakeholders is breathtaking: international organizations, non profit organizations, universities, communities of practice, event participants, medium to large businesses, civil society networks, etc. ” says Frank Escoubès, founder of Imagination for People. “It is the belief of the Imagination for People team that collective intelligence must go beyond traditional forums and social networks in order to stimulate real collective sense-making and brainstorming. Assembl will allow people to do just that.”
The Assembl methodology has already allowed a group of 300 people to co-write and edit a book in 90 days. The book, La monnaie, et après ? (Money, and then what?) has been published by the Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération (FING) and is available for purchase on Amazon. Assembl will be released in early 2014 and is slated to be tested by the European Union in a pilot project of open source co-writing of the European Constitution.
Imagination for People (imaginationforpeople.org) is a network of social entrepreneurs, creative citizens and social innovation projects around the world. Launched in 2011, the online platform is one of the few multilingual open source platforms in the world that targets social innovation in all sectors for-profit, non-profit, citizen organizations or government. Our collective intelligence methodology is the first of its kind and is revolutionizing the way large groups of people work together to produce a single deliverable. We believe in the social innovation revolution and wish to offer a virtual space to connect social projects of all kinds with the tools to help them succeed. With over 1700 projects in 75 countries and personnel in both Montréal and France, I4P is helping people help people, one step at a time.