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IDEO is proud to announce the launch of Shape, a collaborative environment for building, testing, and refining ideas. It’s a platform designed to support collaboration at multiple scales, from small teams to large organizations and global communities. We’ve been using Shape internally at IDEO for more than a year, as well as with a circle of close clients, and are now making it available to everyone.

Shape emerged from IDEO’s years of experience working on open innovation, as well as a deep dive into the needs and difficulties confronted by teams working to solve tough challenges. We gathered input from more than 200 leaders at a diverse set of organizations— from startups to Fortune 500s, emerging nonprofits to some of the worlds biggest NGOs. Across the board, teams reported that they had difficulty finding ways to:

  • Connect and receive feedback from their customers in a meaningful way
  • Facilitate evidence-based decisions
  • Learn from prior projects and initiatives,
  • Keep track of and spread best practices, and;
  • Engage employees or communities to help address important challenges.

To address these challenges, we designed Shape to:

Provide proximity to the customer

Despite an abundance of research tools and services, it is still burdensome, time-consuming, and expensive to get frequent qualitative and quantitative feedback from customers. Shape makes it simple to streamline feedback loops by offering both standardized questions and pre-curated respondents. By reducing the burden of gathering feedback, Shape encourages teams to test more ideas and iterate more often—a practice that we’ve found increases the chance that teams will be successful by more than 40 percent. *

Shape’s feedback features allow teams to get feedback on ideas with only a few clicks.

Make it easy to share tools and best practices

Through our research, we found that even when teams or companies have developed effective tools and best practices, they are frequently scattered across communication channels like email and Slack, and rarely available and searchable in one place.

Shape leverages several of IDEO’s proven tools and templates—like our business model canvas or our customer journey map— and stores them in one place, so they’re easy to find. It also allows teams to design their own templates to share best practices and guide other team members through problem-solving methods and processes. Because these tools exist in a collaborative platform where people can use and adapt them, they become more powerful and help teams save time.

Teams that feel empowered and know how to move ideas forward are more than 69% more likely to come to a successful outcome.

Engage large communities in innovation

We also found that many organizations that use an open innovation approach were dealing with the same challenges: Ideas would get stuck in a particular phase, over-structured phases blocked teams from iterating, and interfaces were often bland and unengaging. Shape radically rethinks open innovation. The platform allows administrators to provide participants with new tools, activities, and feedback opportunities, giving them more flexibility to refine their ideas, leading to better solutions and outcomes. With built-in tags and search functionality, challenge participants can track the ideas and topics that matter to them. They can also easily connect with the teams working on shared interests. By offering these features, Shape allows ideas to live beyond the scope of a challenge, so that motivated teams can continue to collaborate and refine their ideas even after a challenge is over.

The submission box feature allows employees or community members to submit ideas in a common template, and then allows the administrator to introduce new tools and activities as a challenge proceeds.

Help teams leverage existing knowledge and tools

The smartest companies enable their teams to pull insights and data from earlier work, but often, archives aren’t accessible. Shape bridges that gap by providing a searchable knowledge base that draws from team workspaces, making it possible to find research, insights, projects, tools, and data. In-app reporting and comparable test results make it easy to get a bird’s-eye view on activity and ensure that teams are building off of each others’ discoveries. Shape also makes it possible for companies to clearly identify and communicate the metrics behind which ideas are funded and why. Our data from Creative Difference, IDEO’s digital tool for assessing, guiding, and tracking the development of creative teams, shows that teams who follow that practice are 69 percent more likely to succeed.

Shape provides a high level picture of what’s going on within their organization in order to facilitate cross-learning and good decision-making

Facilitate intuitive collaboration

Collaboration needs to be delightful and intuitive. Shape offers live co-editing, commenting, @-mentioning, and easy feedback. We also incorporated design thinking principles: The foamcore board collection allows teams to share and cluster ideas together to generate themes and insights.

Foamcore collections in shape mimic the collaborative interaction of team working with post-its on a foamcore board

Protect privacy and respect human-centered values

Shape provides a secure environment that respects the privacy and confidentiality of your organization’s content. The platform is GDPR-compliant, and leverages cutting-edge security measures to ensure that your content stays secure. At IDEO, we believe in your organization’s right to your own content as well as the user’s right to privacy, and we’ve designed Shape to reflect those values.

One request: Help us continue to make Shape even better.

So far, our teams have loved using Shape. But we also know that we’re just beginning to tap its potential. And, as always, we want to move it forward with the help of our users. Here are three ways you can collaborate with us:

  1. Try Shape. Your first month is on us.
  2. Let us help you set up your target audiences: For paid Shape subscribers who qualify**, IDEO will help create the targeted audience you need to evaluate ideas and make smart decisions. Email hello@shape.space to let us know you're interested.
  3. Join the Shape Circle, a community of users who share feedback that we rely on to create a better product. Participants will get sneak peeks at upcoming features and access to new prompts and ideas for leveraging Shape. (To join, click the checkbox to join the Shape Circle after you create your account.)

*Source: Creative Difference by IDEO, a digital tool to assess, guide and track the development of creative and innovative teams

**Must be a validated paid Shape subscriber with a registered business, government, or NGO.

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