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  • Writer's pictureChanné Suy Lan

Empowering Change through Collaboration: Reflecting on Idea Sprint 2


From June 26th to 28th, 2022, Kawsang organized and facilitated Idea Sprint #2 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The event was funded by the USAID-FHI 360 Civil Society Support(CSS) project Innovations Lab, with the goal of assisting CSS civil society partners in identifying advocacy and capacity-building challenges while testing new approaches and tools for strategic communication and awareness raising.

Planning Idea Sprint II

Reflecting on the previous Idea Sprint, the facilitating team of the program met with the CSS team to evaluate its outcomes and plan for the next iteration. The team recommended dedicating more time to prepare cluster members and carefully selecting participants before a condensed 3-day event, as opposed to the previous 5-day format. This change aimed to encourage broader participation from decision-makers representing diverse sectors of society.

Recruitment and Selection of Participants

The recruitment of participants was conducted through open call applications and CSS cluster leads' members. In total, 57 applications were received, encompassing representatives from both registered and non-registered organizations. Among these, 40 applications were selected.

The 3-day Idea Sprint Event

Day 1:

The program's first day aimed to establish a smooth and collaborative environment. The facilitating team monitored team dynamics and made adjustments. The day started with check-ins, introductions, framing remarks, and a presentation on open innovation. Teams interacted and presented, with the option to switch before lunch. Morning activities focused on understanding the problem space. Afternoon activities included creating personas and formulating "How Might We...?" questions. The day ended with a debriefing and ideation exercise.

Day 2:

The day focused on collaborative ideation and converging towards a prototyping idea. Participants shared reflections and drawings of their commute scenes within their teams. In the morning, the focus shifted from problem exploration to ideation, with an engaging sharing session. The afternoon sessions covered sorting, prioritizing, hypothesis testing, and gaining insights. The day concluded with an introduction to prototyping, a group debriefing, and a check-out activity.

Day 3:

The day started with a group check-in and an elemental meditation activity. Facilitators provided a recap of the prototyping process. Despite challenges, teams made progress once they chose a prototype idea, working in a self-organizing manner. In the afternoon, judges arrived for user testing. The facilitators adopted a customized format, with judges assuming the role of prospective users during personalized visits to each team's workstation. This allowed for deep conversations and understanding of contextual effects. Teams presented prototypes and engaged in Q&A with each judge, with facilitators managing time and interpretation. The format fostered constructive discussions and peer-to-peer learning.

Teams and their ideas

Throughout the three-day event, participants were divided into six teams. Here are the teams, their challenges, processes, and solution ideas:

Team 1: Focused on the 3 main strategies:

  • Awareness raising by using the online platforms such as Facebook, Tiktok to distribute the awareness content and opinion survey related to SOGIESC as basic human rights and offline campaignts to normalize LGBTQI+ family members/children as humans with dignity and pride.

  • Peer-to-peer advocate where parents of the LFBTQI+ family members and the LGBTQI+ community themselves have a safer spaces to connect, share experiences, express who they really are, and fulfill their rights in the society,

  • National advocacy by conducting an online and offline opinion surveys to collect an evidence-based to advocate government counterparts and policymakers aware of the challenges and needs from the LGBTQI+ community

Team 2: Worked on the topic of Mental Health, specifically addressing the struggles of young parents raising small children in a rapidly changing city. Their prototype included a monologue and a three-stage storyboard format to present planned activities.

Team 3: Framed their challenge as empowering indigenous women in environmental protection. Their prototype involved a puppet theater story, the idea is bringing the researcher and indigenous community participatory surveillance to develop a compelling environmental story throught the evidence-based to promote community participation to participate and advocate for the environmental protection.

Team 4: Focused on Community Land Titling for Indigenous Peoples' Communities, initially targeting high schoolers but shifting to Indigenous youth as their personas. Their prototype proposed engaging and empowering indigenous youth in Community Land Titling activities, aiming to expedite the process. Planned activities included traditional dance, cultural shows, debates, and film production to raise awareness through social media.

Team 5: Initially focused on Indigenous Peoples (IP) school children and teachers in rural areas, exploring IT capacity solutions. However, they later shifted their focus to early marriage of IP girls and its impact on education. They created a theater performance stage and developed the idea throughout day 3.

Team 6: Focused on creating an "Occupation Dictionary," a yearly updated and illustrated book targeting young Cambodians in rural schools who are at risk of dropping out. Their prototype was well-thought-out and effectively demonstrated.

Judging panel and selected Ideas for Further Development

The judging panel consisted of Serey Chan (USAID), Jeremy Liebowitz (FHI 360), Sotheavy At (Think Plastic), and Penleak Chan (Raintree). While the judging panel scored and selected teams, participants engaged in popular voting of the prototypes. This voting was inspired by cluster leads' feedback to involve participants and promote team interaction. Team 5 received the highest number of popular votes. Judges faced challenges in deliberating due to the high overall quality of ideas presented. The judging panel evaluated teams based on six criterias:

  • Relevance and importance of the proposed approach to the target advocacy area.

  • Creativity and innovativeness of the proposed approach.

  • Feasibility, considering cost-to-impact efficiency and likelihood of producing results.

  • Likelihood for the proposed approach to pilot within the targeted 6-12-month grants window, demonstrating its potential for impact.

  • Strategic advantage of the proposed approach in achieving important societal outcomes.

  • Consideration of Gender Equality, Disability, and Social Inclusion (GEDSI).

  • These criteria guided the judges in scoring teams and making final decisions.

After discussion, the panel selected Teams 1, 3, and 4 to advance to the next phase of applying for a grant from USAID for a short-term pilot implementation.

Participant Feedback

The feedback was collected on the last day of the program while participants were awaiting the results of their presentations. We received 30 responses in total.

Question: “What was the highlight (best moments) of your experience during these 3 days?”:

“Teamwork” was mentioned multiple times, indicating that our decision to focus on it and leaving more time was received positively by the participants

When we empathize with the feelings of real people who are facing the problem, it opens our eyes.
I learned a lot from my team since they work with our target group. Important lessons are listening and pivoting.

Question: “What one important lesson did you learn from this program?”

"Idea" was mostly mentioned by participants. The word cloud below captures the feedback based on the frequency of their responses.

The unique aspect of this program is that it allows me to co-design an activity plan and create a prototype before committing a significant amount of resources.


Challenges were encountered in addressing the misconception that the program was a funding competition, as well as in reconciling innovative approaches with a pre-determined and inflexible structure. Team dynamics and cohesion proved to be challenging, with some participants suggesting the formation of smaller teams with similar backgrounds, although it is acknowledged that diversity plays a crucial role in the creative process.


Various improvements were implemented for Idea Sprint II based on feedback from the previous program. These improvements included a more accessible open call and cluster-led recruitment, early involvement of cluster leads, streamlined facilitation, and a more suitable venue. The User Test format for judging received positive feedback, as it fostered in-depth discussions and a sense of unity among participants.

Idea Sprint 2 demonstrated the power of collaboration, diversity, and efficient program design in generating transformative ideas. Three promising ideas and teams were identified. These selected ideas, which focus on environmental monitoring, LGBTQI+ issues, and community land titling for indigenous people, have significant potential for positive social impact.

The feedback from participants highlighted important lessons learned and emphasized the value of continued collaboration and learning.



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