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Moving from Ideas to Action

The Idea Incubator provides a space on the NCDD website for members to post ideas that benefit our field, gather feedback, and potentially gain partners.  It provides a home base for your idea, though it should not be your first or only avenue for your idea.  You should use it to supplement other outreach and engagement efforts in the NCDD listservs, at NCDD conferences (and others’ conferences), in our social media groups, etc.  We strongly encourage you to test your idea in these other platforms before posting to the Idea Incubator, to be sure your idea resonates with some NCDD members who may want to get involved.

The NCDD community brings together many extraordinary thinkers and leaders who are passionate about seeing our world change for the better.  NCDD as an organization may not have the resources to follow up on all our members’ ideas, but we feel that NCDD as a network and community of practice has boundless potential.

We hope the Idea Incubator helps our members self-organize and collaborate on the ideas that resonate most!

Template for Moving from Ideas to Action

What follows is a general template created by NCDD Board member Lucas Cioffi of OnlineTownHalls.com. This template provides a suggested road map for channeling energy from the NCDD Discussion list into a working group and then into results.  The path you take for your idea may look very different from this.

The first test of these methods was with Tom Atlee’s American Citizens Engaged (ACE) proposal shared on the NCDD Discussion list in December 2010.

  1. Notice the Energy: Propose your idea on the NCDD Discussion list, at an NCDD event, on an NCDD call, etc., and notice if your idea seems to resonate with NCDD members and start to gain some traction.  If it does…
  2. Create a Home Base for the Idea:  Submit your idea for posting on NCDD’s Idea Incubator by completing the form at www.ncdd.org/post-an-idea, which creates a draft post directly in the NCDD Community News blog. You can also email your write-up to NCDD’s director Sandy Heierbacher at sandy [at] ncdd [dot] org if you prefer. Your Idea Incubator posting provides a home base for your idea on the NCDD site, giving you and others a link where they can find the latest news on your project, comment on the project, and connect with others who are interested in working together on the project.
  3. Gain Collaborators:  Create a brief online survey to collect data from potential collaborators. Suggested survey tools include Google Forms and SurveyMonkey.  You can also pose questions on your post in the Idea Incubator and encourage people to respond using the comment field.  If you create a survey, suggested fields include:
    • First and last name
    • Location
    • Email address
    • What are your suggestions for next steps? (open-ended question)
    • What specific tasks or types of tasks are you interested in working on?
  4. Start Planning and Seeding:
    • Now that you’ve collected some contact info for potential collaborators, invite a few key folks to  join you on a core team or organizing committee.
    • Convene a conference call with core team members using FreeConference.com.  The purpose of this initial call is to create an agenda for a larger conference call with the full group of interested collaborators.  Use the call to identify key questions that participants can begin discussing or thinking about prior to the larger call.
    • Set up a Google Group and seed it with these key questions.  The creator of the Google Group should add all the people who responded to the survey directly into the Google Group.
    • Email sandy [at] ncdd [dot] org to update your post on the NCDD Idea Incubator with details such as a timeline of next steps and instructions for joining the Google Group.
  5. Invite:
    • First, use email to invite the people who signed up through the survey to select a convenient time for a conference call with the whole group.  One method is to use an online scheduling tool such as Doodle where individuals can state their availability for a series of 2 to 3 conference calls.
    • Invite the participants to the conference call, stating a clear purpose for why they may want to participate.  Encourage them to reach out and find other participants who might also be interested.
    • You may also want to announce the calls on the NCDD Discussion list again for those who forgot to respond with their interest.
  6. Convene: Convene all the people who signed up in step #2, using a tool such as Maestro Conference (for conference calls involving small group breakouts) or freeconference.com(for basic conference calls) for a series of 2 to 3 conference calls.
    • Prior to the calls, set up a Google Doc to allow participants to collaboratively take notes during the calls.  If using Maestro Conference, have each breakout group type on a separate page of the same Google Doc so that everyone can see what is being said in the other breakout groups and facilitate cross-pollination.
    • These calls can take many formats. For example, the first conference call can take the form of brainstorming and the second call can be more deliberative.
    • Many great ideas will surface from the conference calls.  Park all good ideas that fall outside the scope of the group’s mission in either the Google Doc or the Google Group.  If these ideas have enough traction, participants can start at Step #1 and form new working groups to address them.
    • Add comments to your post in the Idea Incubator to share consensus, learnings or ideas from listserv or conference call discussions, to respond to questions others have posted, or to pose new questions for those visiting the Idea Incubator post.
  7. Iterate: Periodically convene the council of organizers to discuss to plan for next steps.

Note: see the original Google doc this text is based on, written by NCDD Board member Lucas Cioffi, at this link.