What We Do
Hillel International’s Office of Innovation (OOI) is a think and do tank for the Hillel movement and the Jewish people. Modeled after successful research and innovation labs, known affectionately as “skunkworks,” OOI is a group of thinkers, educators, entrepreneurs, and rabbis tasked with developing, testing, and scaling innovative approaches to serve young Jews in the Hillel movement and beyond. OOI creates new ways to foster social networks, mentors, rituals, and learning experiences among Jewish students and their friends that are the foundation of a vibrant Jewish life.
How We Do It
Our team begins by talking to as many dreamers, schemers, thinkers and tinkerers as we can until we sense an idea emerging. Once we have the faintest outline of an idea, we build a prototype—what we call a Minimum Viable Project—that makes our idea a concrete reality. Then, with a bit of seed funding, we start the adventure of incubating these projects.
To incubate a Minimum Viable Project is to create a new world. We instantiate our projects by working intensely with a design team to imagine a new language, new aesthetics, and new culture. We then refine it by responding to user feedback. If we do our work right here, a project should emerge with a look, feel, and sound all its own, giving each user not just a good or service, but a total experience.
Once a Minimum Viable Project is iterated and refined, we try to scale it quickly to what we call a “strategic perch,” or a concrete glimpse of system-wide change. Once a project reaches a strategic perch, stakeholders begin looking at an innovation not only as a novel idea, but as a whole new way of working. Moreover, they see that the innovation can take root not only in one local context, but across a whole system.