Crowdsourcing offers a fantastic avenue into a wealth of information that might not otherwise be accessible. Through crowdsourcing you have instant access to a wide range of views and opinions, sometimes these offer unique solutions or perspectives on problems your organization has encountered, at other times some form of “averaging” out these responses offers a broad insight into different markets. But if you’ve never used crowdsourcing before, you may struggle to know what questions to ask – after all, if you’re asking the wrong questions, you’re not going to get any valuable answers. This essential list will reveal how to engage with any crowdsourcing platform and get the answers you need to hear.
1. Who Are You?
A crowd is a pretty broad term – for some people, three’s a crowd, but for a sports team it might be 50,000. So what does a crowd mean in the context of your crowdsourcing journey? Before embarking on a crowdsourcing program, find out what the character of the “crowd” is – get a breakdown of demographics in the crowd network.
Most crowdsourcing platforms will provide the resources to narrow your crowd into a more valuable subsection, where you’re problem-solving with the right group of people. Think about whether it’s age, geography or profession that unites the problem-solvers you need to query before launching into the questioning phase.
2. Can We Break It Down?
Does the challenge you’re presenting to the group provide a path to clear responses, or is it overly-complicated? If you present a demanding question to a platform, often the prospect of untangling this challenge is intimidating and off-putting to potential participants. This will muddy the waters of any responses you receive, at best. Often, a multifaceted challenge can be broken down into steps or stages and when presented in this simplified format you’ll get much more actionable feedback.
3. What’s The Best Way To Use The Platform?
If you’re still not sure about the best way to present the particular challenges your organization is facing, approaching the professionals at the platform is the best way to get some direction. Crowdsourcing isn’t a replacement for outsourcing, but rather works best when used in tandem with other problem-solving techniques.
The platform itself will likely have experience problem-solving similar issues that your organization is trying to confront. If there’s objective data about how these challenges were resolved, follow the data to figure out if crowdsourcing a solution is the right process for you.
4. Broad Questions
Asking questions that are narrowly construed often leads to predictable responses. Constructing the questions you pose to the platform more broadly offers more scope for surprising solutions, and it’s often these outside-the-box responses that can offer the most valuable insight. These are, after all, the solutions you couldn’t have gotten to by using your internal resources.
It’s understandable that once you’re steeped in a particular industry your language becomes filled with technical jargon that begins to roll off the tongue. However, when you’re crowdsourcing a solution, you’re inevitably encountering people who aren’t intimately familiar with your industry knowledge. These outside perspectives can be exceptionally valuable in offering hitherto unseen solutions, but only if you can tap into them. Make sure your questions are understandable to a wide audience if you want to harness the power of a crowdsourced solution.
6. The Quid Pro Quo
It’s important to understand the reasons why people engage with crowdsourcing platforms – understanding individuals’ own motivations for answering your questions will give you an important context for interpreting their responses. How do you reward people for engaging with your question, and how does this affect their responses? A good crowdsourcing platform can balance the incentives without biasing the responses, providing you with valuable solutions to your organization’s challenges.
“It is not the answer that enlightens but the question,” said the French playwright Eugene Ionesco – a suggestion that gets to the heart of the power of crowdsourcing solutions to tricky problems. Once you’ve figured out how to construct the perfect questions – in easily understandable language, without any unnecessarily tangled points, you’ll be harnessing the power of crowdsourcing for unique perspectives and actionable solutions for your organization.