In February 2010, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank in Australia created the PlanBig platform to connect changemakers and support them in bringing their ideas to reality. Changemakers create plans for personal or social good projects and solicit advice, resources and support from the community to successfully execute the projects. Community members offer feedback to help their favourite plans succeed and to build their own reputation on the network.
Blogger Jason Berek-Lewis wrote:
“PlanBig works so that anyone and their idea, as small as it might be, can work towards something big with the help from others. Anyone can put their own idea up on the interactive site and anyone can support it. It brings together “a community who is passionate, engaged and eager to lend a hand or an ear” and sometimes, it’s that hand or ear which can make all the difference.”
Marketer Kate Kendall noted:
“It’s a place for sharing ideas and making them happen. Kind of like a Kickstarter or Pozible without the crowdfunding aspect.”
Three years later, the platform is still active and has succeeded in creating a vibrant “community of people with tools, skills & know-how turning big ideas into reality.”
PlanBig was created by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank as part of its purpose to help people realize their dreams.
Blogger Charlotte wrote:
“The website is an initiative of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, which started as a building society in 1858 to create prosperity and strength for the community. The Bank has not forgotten its roots, and its core business ethos today remains to behave as banks once did, by providing resources to keep communities sustainable and prosperous. PlanBig is the online iteration of what the Bank has always done – facilitate community outcomes.”
Blogger Kathie said:
“PlanBig draws on the strengths of social networking to enable people to efficiently share information, build partnerships and support each other to make their plans become reality.”
Changemakers and project-starters share their plan online and continually request help in areas such as advice, goods and space.
Pro Bono Australia explains how it works:
“Users upload their plan to the free website, including information on their motivation and what help they need for their plan.
“They can then participate in a wide range of activities – asking people to volunteer their time, seeking or providing space for events, and seeking donations for specific items. In a similar vein to Facebook, users can ‘like’ a plan, subscribe to updates from the plan, and share it across other social media sites.”
In turn, community members provide advice, encouragement, ideas, resources and publicity for their favorite plans.
After the plan has been successfully completed, project starters share their experience. The entire plan, process, request for help, conversations and case studies are presented in one place, for the benefit of future project starters.
Help Cards are an interesting element unique to PlanBig. Help Cards are designed to help people kickstart their plan and cover a wide range of topics.
The “Becoming Thirty” team blogged:
“One of the most challenging things with any plan can be knowing where to start, however, PlanBig has a range of Help Cards available on the site, created by experts on a variety of topics, which can help people propel their plans or overcome roadblocks.”
Project starters can bookmark help cards for future reference and request Help Cards on specific topics. Both community members and PlanBig community managers have created Help Cards.
PlanBig uses elements of gamification like points, badges and leader boards to encourage activity and reward the most active members.
Chris Jovanov, the art director who helped design the PlanBig platform, shared:
“The latest update to the site has focused on using gamification to encourage engagement and create a more addictive user experience.”
For instance, community members can earn 200 points for helping out on projects. Points are visible one each member’s profile page and also on an activity stream on the PlanBig homepage.
Like many social platforms, PlanBig uses badges to encourage specific activity and establish the reputation of active community members.
PlanBigger Luke Owens shared:
“I have been personally motivated by Points & Badges earned; they provide a cheeky little incentive which, if you’re like me, you will want to attain them all!”
The more active members are on the PlanBig platform, the more visibility their project gets and thus more support.
BusinessMomBlog’s Melissa noted “as with any other networking opportunity, the more you get involved, the more you get out of it,” and recommends members to actively engage with others:
“Spend a bit of time browsing other plans and answering questions. Not only will this help people get to know you, but you are also likely to get people checking out your plan.”
Several members, like Nick, reach out to their personal networks to kickstart activity around their project:
“The more people we get jumping in there and liking the project, adding comments etc the higher it will track on the site, and the more likely we are to receive some assistance to polish or even redevelop our web platform – for a future Australian launch and network.”
Since most members follow the unspoken rule of helping others to attract help for themselves, most members are able to find the support they need.
PlanBiggers Lisa and Duncan shared:
“I like the collaborative underpinnings of the site and that it creates a place (online) that people can come together to talk about ideas, share inspiration, offer advice and assistance to help make ‘Big Plans’ happen, regardless of geography.”
Blogger Rebekah Lambert noted:
“People are genuinely supportive and you can great some great free advice along the way. You can also discover new ideas you may not have uncovered on your own!”
Celebrity PlanBigger Sarah Allen reflected that her collaboration with others added to her own personal growth and success:
“Providing advice and ideas to other Planners on their journey, whether a message of support or feedback or specific suggestions, buying and reviewing their product or donating to their cause or attending their event – all which gave much more back to me than I gave to them!”
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank hope that PlanBig will soon become a self-sufficient ecosystem to support changemakers and project starters.
Broadly speaking, the PlanBig platform is similar to collaborative social innovation platforms, like OpenIDEO and Mahindra Spark the Rise; each has its own nuances and collaboration framework, but they are all designed to “connect, catalyze, crystallize, and celebrate.” These four dimensions, which we explore in our Now & Next: Future of Engagement report on collaborative social innovation, are crucial to facilitating collaborating and creating a sustainable ecosystem for innovation:
“First, platforms need to connect stakeholders so that they have a context to engage with the organization and with each other. Then, platforms need to catalyze interactions so that new ideas and projects can emerge organically. Next, platforms need to synthesize these ideas into solutions that benefit from and build upon the best ideas. Finally, platforms need to celebrate the most powerful or popular ideas, actions and stories by highlighting them.”
MSLGROUP’s People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform and approach helps organizations tap into people’s insights for innovation, storytelling and change. The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform also enables our distinctive insights and foresight approach, which consists of four elements: organic conversation analysis, MSLGROUP’s own insight communities, client-specific insights communities, and ethnographic deep dives into these communities.
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As an example, 100+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on corporate citizenship, crowdsourcing, storytelling and social data on the MSLGROUP Insights Network. Every week, we pick up one project and do a deep dive into conversations around it — on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web — to distill insights and foresights. We share these insights and foresights with you on our People’s Insights blog and compile the best insights from the network and the blog in the People’s Lab Quarterly Magazine, as a showcase of our capabilities. We have further synthesized the insights from 2012 to provide foresights for business leaders and changemakers — in the ten-part People’s Insights Annual Report titled Now & Next: Ten Frontiers for the Future of Engagement, now available as a Kindle eBook.
As you can imagine, we can bring the same innovative approach to help you distill insights and foresights from conversations and communities. To start a conversation on how we can help you win with insights and foresights, write to Pascal Beucler at firstname.lastname@example.org.