The crowd can be your innovation partner

Crowds are becoming the partner of choice when it comes to innovation and research but only a few companies are using crowds effectively. Business owners and managers remain cautious as sending a company’s problems out to a group of strangers seems like a risk most are not willing to take – especially for organizations that are centered on a foundation of internal innovation. Many fear that integrating crowdsourcing into administrative operations would result in a nightmare.

Although these fears may seem reasonable, excluding the prospect of crowdsourcing from corporate innovation could cost you a viable opportunity. The biggest reason companies avoid crowdsourcing as an innovative tool is because they have an unclear understanding of the kinds of problems a crowd can handle better as an unclear understanding of how to manage the process.

The Differences between Crowdsourcing and Traditional Organizational Models

Crowd-powered problem solving differs greatly from traditional organizational models. Yet the line that defines the differences between the two is unclear to many business owners. Companies are typically capable of tackling problems and innovation opportunities with specialized knowledge while a crowd, although well-functioning, may be a bit more decentralized and loose. Before writing this off as a bad thing, consider this: Crowds can help to expose problems through a vast diversity of individuals with varied perspectives, skills, and experience. Crowdsourcing innovation can help a company to operate at a scale that exceeds that of the most complex global corporation by bringing even more individuals and perspectives to focus on one given challenge. This can help your business to solve problems more efficiently.

In addition to what crowdsourcing innovation has to offer to a company in terms of problem-solving, it also offers incentive options that companies often find difficult to match. For example, companies typically operate on more traditional incentives such as salaries and bonuses while employees are given clear roles and responsibilities, which can sometimes discourage them from pursuing challenges outside their scope or experience. But crowds can be inspired by other motivations, like more intrinsic ones such as the desire to learn, which can cost less for a company (and often less than it would cost per worker via traditional organizational solutions).

How Crowdsourcing Innovation Works

Here are a few steps that explain exactly how crowdsourcing innovation works:

Your Company Needs a Solution for a Problem

Every company has problems that need addressing. An extra set of ideas or a new perspective can’t hurt, can it? Regardless of the problem, someone is out there who has an opinion on how to fix it, which is where the crowd comes in.

Share the Problem with Your Crowd

You can choose who belongs to your network but keep in mind that the bigger the crowd, the more experience and knowledge you can hone in on. You can tap into specific groups of employees, partners, customers, all employees or all of these groups. Each group will have something unique to offer.

The Crowd Gives it a Go

This is where you get to watch how the people in your network handle the challenge. You will see how they perceive the challenge and what solutions they have to solve your company’s problem. The crowd’s response will help you to think differently and more effectively about how to address the problem at hand.

You Make Better Products

To come up with the best ideas, you need a lot of sources and crowdsourcing innovation helps you to come up with that. After people submit solutions and ideas, you will have a number of ideas to choose from which will give you more opportunity, which will enable you to make better products and make more money.