Crowdsourcing & Collaboration

Despite tremendous advances in technology that yield nearly infinite access to information and the Internet’s connectivity of the world’s greatest experts, many companies continue to look inward for new product development and innovation.

This navel gazing and resistance to collaborate with the technology-enabled global network limits these companies’ capacity to innovate. What is needed is a culture of collaboration and eradication of the “not invented here” mentality.

Throughout history, many of humanity’s greatest achievements stem from collaboration. For example, the Oxford English Dictionary came into being in the mid-19th century as a result of an open call for volunteers. Over 70 years, 6 million submissions were collected, identifying all words in the English language and example quotations exemplifying their usages. Imagine how much easier and faster this task would be today harnessing the power of the Internet.

Global collaboration is a trend that has been picking up steam, creating a virtual community with a sense of unity and interest in sharing information for the common good. Perhaps the development community was the pioneer of this movement with their open-source software model, where source code was made universally available to make collective advances in technology. In 2005, the editors at Wired Magazine coined the term “crowdsourcing” to describe how some businesses were using the Internet to collect information and outsource work to individuals. Since then, smart companies have been utilizing human capital outside their walls and actively practicing Open Innovation to source and fuel significant growth opportunities.

In his 2013 book “Crowdsourcing,” Daren C. Brabham describes how crowdsourcing is being used today:

Knowledge Discovery & Management: For information-management problems where an organization mobilizes a crowd to find and assemble information. Ideal for creating collective resources.

Distributed Human Intelligence Tasking: For information-management problems where an organization has a set of information in hand and mobilizes a crowd to process or analyze the information. Ideal for processing large data sets that computers cannot easily do.

Broadcast Search: For ideation problems where an organization mobilizes a crowd to come up with a solution to a problem that has an objective, provable right answer. Ideal for scientific problem-solving.

Peer-Vetted Creative Production: For ideation problems where an organization mobilizes a crowd to come up with a solution to a problem that has an answer that is subjective or dependent on public support. Ideal for design, aesthetic or policy problems.

The collective minds are more generative than one mind working alone. Be vigilant about employees becoming insular; cognitive bias limits group thinking. Look outside your walls for answers to problems. Tap the crowd.