CO-OP Taps Into Power of the Crowd for 2015 THINK Prize

By Denise Gabel

As the world has grown more and more connected through the internet, a new source of ideas, innovation and impact has emerged. It’s seen in Twitter’s ability to provide eye-witness accounts to nearly any global news story. It’s seen in Yelp’s ability to find you a great restaurant, wherever you are. Perhaps most famously, it’s seen in Wikipedia, the website that has become a single source for an incredible amount of the world’s knowledge.

This new force is the power of the crowd. It’s the ability for hundreds or thousands of people to share their insights, and for those insights to fit themselves together and build on one another to create something greater than any one person could accomplish.

For 2015, CO-OP is opening its annual THINK Prize to the power of the crowd. Together with OpenIDEO, an arm of legendary design and consulting firm IDEO, CO-OP is asking this question: “How might we use the power of communities to financially empower, educate and protect those who need it most?”

And they are challenging anyone and everyone — credit union employees, members, the general public — to come up with great ideas. The winners will receive a $10,000 prize, co-sponsored by MasterCard.

“Ideas are improved through collaboration,” said Stan Hollen, President and CEO of CO-OP. “Having the CO-OP THINK Prize 15 run through the OpenIDEO platform instantly gives credit unions a vast network of consultants and an immense live focus group working on issues important to the movement.”

The credit union movement, with over 6,000 credit unions in the U.S. and a host of incredible leaders, employees and members, is well-situated to be a hotbed of innovation. A challenge like this, which focuses all that creative energy on one grand question, is a great way to leverage credit unions’ innovative potential to make an impact.

Participation is open right now, and taking place at: The challenge is proceeding in four phases over the course of nearly three months, according to OpenIDEO’s crowd-sourcing format: Research, Ideas, Refinement and Top Ideas.

Participants may enter into the process anytime up to the end of phase two, April 28. Red letter dates and milestones are:

  • Phase 1: Underway now and extending through March 31: Research phase enables anyone to share personal perspectives and examples on the challenge topic.
  • Phase 2: April 1-28: The Ideas phase is open, enabling anyone to submit and comment on news ideas.
  • Phase 3: May 5-June 2: A shortlist of participants enter the Refinement phase, with these finalists to be announced at the THINK 15 Conference, being held May 5-8 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Phase 4: June 9: Approximately five Top Ideas are announced, with the $10,000 CO-OP THINK Prize 15 to be shared among the individuals responsible for originating the solutions.

The credit union movement is host to many of the world’s best and brightest people. Let’s take this opportunity to put our heads together, share our best insights, and make an impact in the realm we care most about — the financial wellbeing of our fellow man.

More information about OpenIDEO’s “design thinking” methodology can be found at

Who knows, perhaps the winner will come from the Northwest (smile).

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790,

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