By Aaron Schonhoff, Research and Evaluation Associate at Joining Vision and Action

Our organizations are full of smart people with good ideas, and we serve clients and communities who are equally full of good ideas. Yet it can be difficult to find the time and an appropriate avenue to gather ideas and determine which ideas the collective group believes are the best.

To help facilitate the ideation process, the folks at Princeton University have created a tool to help prioritize and gather the best ideas—the All Our Ideas tool. We thought it was a useful (and free!) tool worth sharing with you.

What is it?

All Our Ideas is a free tool that allows us to quickly create what they call “wiki surveys.” A wiki survey is a simple website that allows us to pose a question, seed potential responses and then pit these pre-seeded ideas against one another, two at a time, so visitors can indicate their preference between the two (Figure 1).

In addition to selecting their preference, visitors can submit their own ideas to be added to the mix. The wiki survey website can then be either distributed to the general public or password protected so feedback can be gathered only from those you want it from. Then, using an algorithm, the wiki survey will associate each option with a score so that the best, or favorite, ideas rise to the top.

In other words, if you want to figure out which form of exercise is preferred by your clients or staff members, All Our Ideas will do that for you.

Figure 1. Example wiki survey

Creating a Wiki Survey

Setting up a wiki survey can be done with ease and is free.

  • The first step is to come up with the question to pose to visitors to your wiki survey.
  • Next, a URL needs to be created. This will be the web address of the wiki survey that you will share. This step may sound complicated, but all that needs to be done is to create the tail end of the URL; All Our Ideas will populate the rest, with the URL syntax being[your URL portion].
  • The third step will be to enter the ideas you want to seed.
  • Then, finally, the fourth step will be to provide an email and password to create a user profile with login information.

Managing a Wiki Survey

After a user login has been created, any number of wiki surveys can be created. This account can also be used to manage each wiki survey though the control panel page, with options to change the password needed to access the wiki survey, link with a Google Analytics account, add a logo and generate a code to embed the wiki survey into your own site.

The control panel also displays which ideas are currently rising to the top (Figure 2). For the example here, we can see that hiking is the current top “idea” or choice.

Furthermore, there are controls that allow users to add their own ideas and that curate the ideas that come in. Wiki surveys can be set up to automatically incorporate ideas into the mix, but if there is any need to monitor and curate what goes into the mix, this can be done easily from the control panel page. Once a user submits an idea, it will appear in the control panel as “Deactivated” (unless user submissions are set to automatic).

In the example below, there are two submitted ideas, “rock climbing” and “king sized candy bars!,” awaiting approval for our wiki survey asking about preferred forms of exercise. Clearly, one of those does not fit with the question, so it can be ignored. The idea of “rock climbing” can be added by simply clicking on the “Deactivate” button, and it will turn blue and be added to the mix for future users visiting your wiki survey.

Figure 2. Curating submitted ideas

So there you have it, an easy-to-use and free tool to that easily lets you pull in the best ideas from your staff or clients. Whether it is gathering ideas for how to better serve your clients or determining the best happy hour spot to hit after staff meetings, All Our Ideas is a great tool for generating and sifting through ideas.

JVA constantly strives to help our clients with both ideation and execution as it relates to strategic planning, grantwriting and evaluation, so if you are looking for some assistance in those areas, reach out and we will help you start those conversations.

Read more blogs by Aaron