There is a favorite maxim probably voiced by someone who was burnt out on collaborative projects that says “a camel is a horse designed by committee.”
Design by committee, where the risk with crowdsourcing is ending up with a camel. That’s why one of the key responsibilities of companies and organizations looking to integrate feedback from users, customers, or people is to organize those suggestions into a coherent product. To make sense of varying opinions and ideas, which (no matter how useful or inspired they are) don’t always seem logical once fitted together. However, I have to say that I am really pleased with the innovative new bike Philippe Starck designed with the help of the crowd.
Bordeaux Municipal Bike Loan System was looking to introduce a new bike and when the engaged Philppe Starck, they didn’t just hand over a brief of what they thought the city needed for its roads, they also included more than 300 comments from citizens on how their ideal bike would look at function. The result is a bike that is part bike, part scooter, which is mainly supposed to help in the transition between bike and pedestrian only area.
As time goes on, I imagine that most companies (no matter the complexity of their product) will begin looking to the crowd for ideas and breakthroughs. Nissan is already using their Facebook page to launch a four-part feedback program that will help them build their next car: the 370Z. The four categories that will be looked at include power, handling/brakes, interior and exterior, with folks currently gearing up to talk about the interior design.
Or of course there’s this gentleman who would like to start a sight of skateboards designed by the crowd.
How can an organization best synthesize the ideas of a crowd to avoid the camel conundrum? What other items have successfully crowdsourced aspects of their design?