Projectskeyboard_arrow_rightBertelsmman Handbook on People-Led Innovation

Bertelsmman Handbook on People-Led Innovation

How can we derive people-driven solutions at every step of the problem-solving process?

    Governance Area
  • Municipal Governance Regional Governance
  • Institution Type
  • Public Sector Nonprofit
  • Innovative Capability
  • Collective Intelligence Crowdsourcing Expert Networks Agile Research Open Data Rapid Prototyping Design Thinking Civic Technology
  • Product Category
  • Methodology


Cities worldwide are seeking to become more resilient to environmental, social, and economic shocks and stresses. However, traditional methods and existing resources often fall short of tackling today’s challenges. Cities need not only provide innovative solutions to a complex array of problems, they also need to innovate in the way that they develop these solutions.




The Bertelsmann Foundation


The Bertelsmann Handbook articulates a method for curating and matching the supply of people’s expertise to the demand of urban challenges. When used in sync with other existing methodologies, People-Led Innovation seeks to provide more sustainable, inclusive, and effective policies and services.

The Methodology comprises four key phases, all aimed at tapping into the expertise of the public through a mix a curation and openness:

  • Define – engaging people to identify, define, prioritize and curate the problem(s) to be solved through an innovation approach.
  • Ideate – curating potential solutions to identified problems by engaging the expertise of the public.
  • Experiment – implementing new solutions in an agile manner and curating the capacity needed to test what works in practice.
  • Communicate – transferring lessons learned to a wide audience and curating feedback received to enable strategic iteration.

Additionally, there are four types of engagement to be utilized in people-led solutions:

  • Commenting: In this role, the group provides their opinions or experiences to build upon the problem-solving team’s ideas.
  • Co-creating: Stakeholder groups are asked to apply their skills and creativity to develop definitions, solutions, or priorities with the problem-solving team.
  • Reviewing: Similar to the ‘Commenting’ role, stakeholder groups are asked to provide their insights and opinions. However, in this step, the groups are seeking to assess and evaluate proposals and/or interventions.
  • Reporting: In the Reporting role, groups are asked to contribute data and add facts to problem definitions, solution plans, and evaluations.

Results & Impact


Stefaan Verhulst

Andrew Young

Hannah Pierce