You may now ask; how is Koios be better than current approaches to solving social problems or how is it better than using other online services? Why should we move to the Koios platform?

Why it is better than other virtual environments

There are today no online platforms that are designed ground up for the entire process of solving complex social problems.

Instead there are lots of services that can be used for parts of the process. Many teams therefore end up using a mix of tools like Skype, Google docs, Insight maker, The brain (online mind mapping), E-mail, Wikis, DebateGraph, InsightMaker, Basecamp, Hojoki, Twitter, forums like PhpBB and perhaps Slideshare and social networking services like Ning, facebook or linkedIn. Some teams also have custom tailored made web sites using frameworks like CMS (e.g. Drupal) or LMS's (e.g. Moodle) to their mix of tools.

The big problem with this approach is that the mix of tools become a Frankenstein solution or solution set that is neither very useable, user-friendly nor useful. Users have to jump between websites, information is duplicated, people can't find what they are looking for, and people can't get an overview. They are often spammed with information that is not relevant. And most importantly there is little coordination and few processes to steer the group towards a goal. The amount of noise and cognitive load is so high that very few find it fruitful to work in such an environment. Other typical issues are described by the MIT center of Collective Intelligence.

Why it is better than other Open Social Innovation (OSI) sites

There are several ready-to-use OSI online services, but most of these are very simple. Usually they let you come up with new ideas, but all to often they end up being a place for superficial comments that rearly contributes to viable solutions.

Support for activities such as research, critique, simulations, deciding on solution criteria, stakeholder analysis, root cause analysis, systems modelling, group management, planning, task management etc. etc. is completely missing on these sites.

The strenght in these OSI sites is the network of people. This is the glue and value. Our strategy is to build the best platform for social and systemic innovation first and then build the network of people.

Koios is different from, what may seem as somewhat similar, OSI crowdsourcing platforms in that Koios aims to support systemic problem solving. Rather than simply helping users submit ideas to specific social challenges and often symptomatic issues we instead focus on whole systems change by creating deep understanding of social systems.

Why is Koios better than traditional problem solving methods

There are today thousands of organizations, communities or groups around the world trying to solve various social problems. Experts in governments, international organizations, research institutions, think tanks, NGO’s as well as activists, fund raisers and social innovators are doing a phenomenal job.

The most formal and established organizations employ advanced research methodologies and infrastructure but the people working in these teams are relatively few and have therefore limited capacity.

The less formal groups on the other hand consist of many times more people but are often limited in various ways such as having limited resources, limited skills, limited infrastructure or limited knowledge.

Koios seeks to bridge this gap by giving the smaller and less formal teams new tools, and a network including access to knowledge and best practices.

As Nadler and Hibino points out in their book Breakthrough Thinking; we have traditionally not had the resources to work on both the problem and the solution at the same time. It is simply too much analysis/work. This is a critical limitation for today's social change agents. Now with crowdsourcing techniques we can call on people all over the world to investigate the problem and the solution space at the same time as solutions are being tested.

Compared to traditional ways of solving problems, Koios has the potential to accelerate problem solving by letting more people work in parallel and to reuse data. In a problem solving process there will always be roadblocks. Information is repeatedly needed to take decisions and to move ahead. A crowdsourced approach helps to rid the path of impediments such as this.

List of benefits

The Koios solution is under development but here are the benefits as we envision them, when compared to traditional problem solving methods:

Benefits for newcomers, informal and non-expert problem solvers

  • Lower barrier to enter complex problem solving. More user-friendly and accessible tools.
  • Problem solving process with techniques and strategies are built in to the system so you don't have to search for and learn these processes, methods and tools.
  • Step by step process with forms and fields guides you effectively through the process. You don't need to have a PhD to get started.
  • A community of problem solvers you can learn from and exchange ideas with.
  • More motivating as you are part of something bigger. (Thousands coming together and solving the world’s problems)
  • Learning material and mentoring features helps you become a better problem solver.
  • A network of problem solvers that can assist and give feedback.
  • Built in policies, checklists and workflows helps you to think objectively, to avoid bias and unsound judgement.
  • Many plans fail not because of what was in the plan, but what was not in the plan.
    Many eyes - Multiple independent verifications - continuously checking the shared content for errors. Correcting, rating confidence, reviewing and voting, helps to prioritize and to remove bad content which results in better content quality.
  • Koios has status overview dashboards, task lists etc. to help users get up to date quickly and to avoid users being overwhelmed.

Benefits for experienced problem solvers, researchers and analysts

  • More coordinated problem solving both between projects and within a project (when participants are not co-located).
  • Access to manpower to help with tasks.
  • Koios can make your project more visible. It can help to attract more resources and win grants.
  • Social networking features shows relevant knowledge and expertise of other Koios members.
  • Help potential contributors find you and your team.
  • Faster review and feedback.
  • Improved collaboration for participants around the world. In traditional teams working across time zones you often get a scheduling nightmare. With Koios you store the full history and anyone can work anytime and anywhere. The system significantly decreases the need for coordination and status meetings.
  • The traditional sequential document-centric approach of moving documents from person to person takes too long time. On Koios everyone can multi-task and work in parallel.
  • More options to get help when progress has halted. Possibilities to get new ideas and find collaborators with complementary knowledge.
  • Get tools to help you manage a team. (Role, group and permission management as well as project management tools and guides)
  • Object oriented data model to enable links between topics and corpus of relevant data.
  • Past problem solutions bring insight and help you to solve new problems quicker.
  • Data, information and knowledge from other challenges can easily be reused in your challenge saving you time and work.
  • Versioning to keep track of changes and to enable undoing changes.
  • A learning architecture and process improvement framework are built into the system to further develop and make Koios better over time.
  • The platform allows for methodical and systematic improvement of the problem solving process. This, over time, can provide new knowledge and best practices for social problem solving.
  • All-in-one-solution. Collaboration in one coherent portal. Avoid fragmentation and poor usability.
  • One site with unified news, alerts and notifications means less noise.
  • Help you work on multiple problems at once.
  • As a researcher Koios can help you to get your research incorporated into practice.
  • Be part of a larger problem solving community. Discuss problem solving matters with likeminded.
  • Accountability, complience, audit-trail/traceability is built into the system.

Benefits for everyone

  • With one well known portal, Koios, for the world's problems, important social issues can be highlighted. This can help to create awareness to a cause so to attract more resources to the effort.
  • Deliberation is supported with both analysis and synthesis to produce high quality holistic results.
  • Easier to collaborate. With the clearly defined process steps, your team can easily divide tasks and work on specific parts of the problem. In traditional analyis work many simultaneous writers would typically have coordination problems such as covering what's important and not writing overlapping content.
  • With our integrated problem solving tools you do not have to learn several different tools with completely different user interfaces. You don't have to switch between different software. You don't need to install new tools on your computer.
  • A structured data layer makes data accessible as web services/API’s and queryable by remote computer systems to allow for Science 2.0 / science grid /Linked open data.
  • The site is designed around openness and transparency. Openness fosters engagement. Transparency improves quality. With engagement and quality comes more efficient problem solving.
  • Versioning can provide a glimpse into the process which again can be used to improve processes and as learning material.
  • The collective knowledge of experts will overtime be encoded into the system with semantic technologies so that it can be reused more effectively.
  • Solving problems on Koios is more fun because of a reward system with points, leader boards and badges. When it's more fun people also spend more time on it and more problems can be solved.
  • Features for rich narratives and presentations of your challenge make your work easier to communicate to others.
  • If you don't have time to work on the problem someone else can take over. The project will not die out as can happen if all your work is stored on your local computer.
  • Other online collaborative tools like forums or social media sites tend to become a very long debate that doesn’t result in anything productive. Discussions are repeated as there is no way to federate or organize insights or conclusions. Koios makes this more effective by coupling each discussion tightly to a very concrete question within a clear process with clear goals.
  • Greater potential for learning when there are more ideas and more perspectives available.
  • Large groups of independent, motivated and informed contributors can often collectively make better judgments experts, because their collective judgment cancels out the biases and gaps of the individual members.
  • The long tail - the openness and reach of the platform allows for more participation and much greater diversity of ideas. Since people often develop new ideas by forming novel combinations and extensions of other ideas there is a greater chance of synergy effects and finding better solutions.
  • Information on different problems are presented in a uniform way across the platform making it easier and faster to digest.
  • People working in non-profits are often caught in a cycle of responding to short term, often because of a lack of resources. These organizations are often vulnerable to blindsiding. Koios can help to get a wider perspective and think more long term towards solutions that avoids unintented consequences. They might also be more able to address the deeper root causes that will actually solve the problem rather then constantly chasing short term rewards and not really solving the deeper problem in the long run.
  • Get recognition for your work. Your work is visible to anyone.
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