(This blog was first posted on ideapoke.com)
Companies are increasingly adopting the model of open innovation and crowdsourcing to find answers to their problems! They are taking concrete steps to proposing questions, getting ideas and throwing challenges to members of their ecosystem. Several global players, who have been more receptive to such an unconventional approach, have seen the impact of open innovation and crowdsourcing. Engaging with people on strategic and operational problems and hearing their possible approach and solution has been highly beneficial.
Crowdsourcing helps find answers, but should it be the ONLY way ahead? The general misconception about crowdsourcing is that bigger the crowd, the question will be answered!
Crowdsourcing actually is about reaching out to a larger community of similar set of people who willingly engage in similar topics relevant to your needs. There’s a distinction – it’s not just the noise created, it’s directing your voice and engaging a large community of people who can solve your problem. Of course, there is “noise” created, but the purpose of this noise is to give everyone a platform to come forward and contribute in their area of interest.
One of the consequences of “noise” is the quality of answers that come from the crowd. An idea is only an idea until someone executes it. Crowdsourcing gives the ideas, open innovation can help execute them! History is evidence that some of the most radical ideas were seemingly unpopular, rejected or ridiculed. Such game changing ideas undoubtedly are 1 in a million, yet crowdsourcing and open-innovation gives the chance to evaluate ideas, open new avenues and enable “out-of-the-box” solutions. Crowdsourcing in conjunction with open innovation would reap actual benefits.
A factor to consider are the financial implications of crowdsourcing. Would it cost more to have people handle the initiative? Would it be expensive to handle the volume of answers and suggestions? How would objection handling and rejection have a impact on the organisation? A number of these questions can be answered with the engagement of theright innovation platform and possible outsourcing of certain parts of innovation and ideation. We see companies modularising and providing more niche service offerings.
Crowdsourcing and open innovation in the space of breaking down complex problems into simpler smaller sets on a common platform through different devices, getting ideas and mapping them to the larger problem is how we will find the right answer. The rise of co-creation and idea management has roots to this approach of innovation management. Crowdsourcing is already changing from just calling people to present ideas, to, actually integrating and executing the ideas.
The crowd in crowdsourcing can comprise of several categories of people. Some can be difficult and almost irrational. Helping distinguish the members in the crowd is important and James Surowiecki’s book “The Wisdom of Crowds” is an interesting read to showcase how crowdsourcing can help but if not used right, can lead to problems. Using crowdsourcing as a system’s approach to show the whole is more than the sum of the parts can help formulate how a challenge is articulated. Experts have their use, but are only as useful as the number of tricks present in their bag. To break the walls, fresh and different insights are needed. I guess in this post, we played devil’s advocate. To the skeptical we showcase the benefits; to the trend-runners we gave possible pitfalls. But at Ideapoke we have proven experience of the power of crowdsourcing and open innovation to help you find the right answers.