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One of the challenges of competitions is what happens after the prize money is awarded.
Winners get fame and recognition, and, if they are lucky, introductions to partners or benefactors that can fuel their growth.
Net Squared has faced this, as they’ve found their competitors disappear and winning projects move on to other successes. With few exceptions, they’ve found the communities that form around a particular competition to be fleeting.
In typical competitions, this is just fine — a winning entry solves the problem. The classic example, the British Navy’s prize for a device to accurately calculate longitude, the device was delivered and the money awarded. Mission accomplished.
Social sector competitions, though, have proved trickier. Typically, the motivating problem - what the competition is designed to address - doesn’t disappear with the prize.
At last week’s Gov 2.0 Expo, Peter Corbett of iStrategy Labs talked about going beyond apps contests. That’s a conversation that seems timely now that so many organizations, from Netsquared to the United States Army, are trying them.
The goal of all of this has been to harness the excitement of development for good, but also to go beyond the contests — to build communities of practice. Peter calls these innovator networks. If we’re lucky, these may grow into innovation marketplaces that just might be self-sustaining.
That’s the hope, anyway. Meanwhile, it’s lots of experimentation. One prominent experiment, sponsored by Corbett’s iStrategy Labs, is this month’s Digital Capital Week (DCWeek). A week-long series of workshops, projects and parties, DCWeek aims to build ties among the creatives in the community. The week is bookended by weekends of hands-on projects for the city.
If you’re in DC, please stop by. It will be lots of fun - and lots of learning. See the DCWeek full schedule for details.
And bring your nonprofit social media problems to our Wednesday afternoon session. The USO’s Em Hall and I will be there to spark conversation - and inspire some hands-on problem solving.
You can find the rest of Peter’s Gov 2.0 Expo presentation on the conference website. It’s great background on what this app craze is all about - what it can do for the army, and beyond.