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The Open-Close model is a simple, innovation-related didactic model that deals with the process, from challenge to action, through 3 main phases: Open-, Overview-, and Close phases. The model can be used for a single lesson, for a longer course, in large interdisciplinary camps, but also to conduct meetings.

The advantage of an open-close model is that the open and close phases are equally weighted in terms of importance. The model requires that students not simply take the first and best solutions, but rather remain open to new ideas and other solutions for an extended period of time. There is not so much focus on the reformulation of the problem itself and carrying out of actual fieldwork. The Double Diamond model is also based on the equal weighting of divergent and convergent processes.

Instructions

The model begins with a relevant challenge. After defining one, attention is paid to idea generation and development during the model’s ‘Open Phase’. During the ‘Overview Phase’, an overview is produced, as well as potential solutions via clustering. In the ‘Close Phase’, solutions are tightened up and conceptualized. These will serve as the basis for the ‘Action Phase’ that follows.

The process is managed by a facilitator, the teacher, who introduces the model and explains that all phases must be completed to attain a satisfactory result. The facilitation of the process entails articulating and staging the beginning and conclusion of individual phases, and their methods – typically with specific time intervals.

Read more about the phases and methods relevant under Phases.

Phases

The open-close model is based upon a relevant case (see the methods below). A challenge may stem from a specific need within a company or organisation, societal issues, megatrends or a student’s own desires and visions for a concrete project or problem.

Research indicates that one of the most critical issues in entrepreneurship instruction is that a student must have a sense of ownership of their project. This motivation drives innovation course learning. Therefore, it might pay off to dedicate some time to finding the most relevant challenge possible for a course and your students.(Source (in Danish): Kåre Moberg; Erik Stenberg;Lene Vestergaard: Effektmåling af Entreprenørskabsundervisning i Danmark 2012, report, Fonden for Entreprenørskab, 2013)

The open-close model relies upon the identification of a relevant problem from the get go. Therefore, idea generation begins during the model’s ‘open phase’. However, experience from other courses demonstrates that it is also important for students to have time to work on their problem statement and possibly reformulate it, based upon the their knowledge, user tests, fieldwork, etc.. It may be advantageous to incorporate this into the course. Specific methods are listed below.

Methods

During the Open Phase, a topic is researched without critique and judgement. All experiences, relevant knowledge, thoughts and ideas are set aside. The focus is not on decision-making, but on appreciating the topic from all relevant angles. The open phase can last from a few minutes to a few hours, depending upon the topic’s importance and complexity.

The purpose of this phase is to derail conventional thinking and combine new ideas and thoughts. The students can start the open phase with the Build an Opportunity Room method (see below). The method ensures a shared point of departure for the group’s idea generation process, as well as providing a more nuanced picture of the original problem. Beyond that, a range of brainstorm exercises can be set in motion. Trying different techniques will produce the best results.

Methods

The goal of the Overview Phase is to analyse, systematise and categorise the materials, thoughts and ideas that are presented in the Open Phase. It is important to not judge or exclude ideas during this phase. Instead, the goal should be to shape patterns and relationships.

During this phase, it is important that the facilitator, teacher, ensures that groups discuss and consider ideas. On the other hand, they should encourage students to consider new combinations and new ideas.

Methods

The close phase deals with researching, expanding and specifying ideas.

During this phase, the most valuable and promising ideas are selected and transformed into decisions. It is also when participants will begin to realise that it’s not just one idea that will solve a challenge, and that it takes more than one idea to form a concept. While a concept always consists of a core idea, one that is often the solution’s dna, this idea cannot exist on its own and will often be situated within a system of stakeholders, experiences and practical limits and opportunities.

This is where the idea gets tested. Through testing, one will soon appreciate the idea’s potential to solve the original challenge. Some of the most widely used testing methods are Prototyping and User Tests. However, Visualisation and User Journeys are also effective methods of unpaacking an idea/concept.

Methods

The aim of the Action Phase is to focus on how an idea is executed and realised.In order for a concept to create value, it is important to focus on an action plan. This means that students need to relate their concept to elements such as customer segments, market analyses, communications, distribution, finance, etc..

There are different ways for teachers and students to approach work during the final phase:

  1. The course can be organised so that it concludes with a participatory idea or innovation competition (see below)
  2. The course may conclude with a student presentation for relevant partners of the concept
  3. The course may involve specific outputs such as a written explanation of a business model or the like

Methods

Sources

“Metoder, en samling af koncepter, forløb og metoder fra Innovationskraft og entreprenørskab på gymnasier i Region Hovedstadenselve” 2012.

Moving Minds – www.movingminds.dk

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