Tag: crowdsourcing

Who Makes the Decisions in Crowdsourcing?

Who makes the decisions in crowdsourcing?You will likely engage your experts and authorities at the earliest stages or your program through discussion. These are the people who know a great deal about the subject matter of the campaigns and can give you strong feedback on your problem statement and criteria for success. And these are the people who must agree and must give their blessing to your plan before you move forward in launching.

When scoping out the people who care about the subject matter of your campaign, the people with a vested interested in your campaign, you might discover that this constitutes your entire crowd. This is a good thing! This is the whole idea of crowdsourcing: to gather and synthesize the input of many minds! These people will certainly post ideas and comment on ideas, but you might even invite them in early decision making by allowing them to help you screen ideas. You give weight to the opinions of the individuals in your crowd and involve these individuals in decision making by setting rules to screen or filter ideas according to a certain threshold in votes or other scores.

In this example, you might involve your subject matter experts in transforming idea fragments into fleshed out concepts by engaging them in idea refinement.

Finally, you might involve your authorities in the final stage of evaluating and selecting ideas and slating ideas for implementation.

This is simply an example of how one might decide how and when the stakeholders, experts, and authorities participate in decision-making. We call this community governance. The governance that you develop for your community will likely differ from this example because it should fit with the culture and goals of your organization and program. If you’re not sure how to set up the governance of your community, you can set up a consultation with an IdeaScale Innovation Architect for guidance.

This entry is part of a mini-series dedicated to implementation. For the full story on implementation, watch our 20 min webinar or check out this blog on decision-making, this one on execution, and this one on identifying your stakeholders.

This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

This post is by Whitney Bernstein, Innovation Strategist at IdeaScale

Know Your Innovation Stakeholders

Innovation StakeholdersIn order to involve key stakeholders early, you must first understand who your stakeholder are.

I recently read a book called Crucial Conversations. In the chapter called “Move to Action,” the authors describe how to identify potential participants in a decision.

The authors recommend asking four questions:

Who cares? Who has a vested interest in the subject matter of your crowdsourcing campaign? Those people are potential candidates for involvement in the decisions around which ideas to advance.

Who knows? These are your subject matter experts.

Who must agree? These are your influencers or those with decision-making authority at your organization.

How many people? Finally, the authors recommend taking into consideration how many of these candidates for participation you can involved in a practical way, without burying the decision in tremendous complexity and inefficiency. I pivoted off this, because software can help you overcome the challenges that would usually bog down group decisions. A software solution allows you to efficiently gather and synthesize diverse opinions into a single decision. We will dive a deeper into how software allows you to make collective decisions efficiently a little bit later.

But for now, I would like to offer an alternative way to frame the fourth question…Instead of asking how many people can participate efficiently, ask yourself:

How and when will they participate? Of those people who I wish to engage in decisions, how can I engage them efficiently? And WHEN is the appropriate time to engage them?

Once you map out who cares, who know, and who must agree, you might not include each of these people in the decision-making process in the exact same way or at the exact same time, but you can use software to develop an inclusive yet efficient system. Check out this blog on decision-making and this one on execution. For the full story on implementation, watch our 20 min webinar

This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

This post is by Whitney Bernstein, Innovation Strategist at IdeaScale

Crowdsourcing and Traffic

Crowdsourcing and trafficTomorrow is Thanksgiving which means that many of you are traveling to be home for the holidays. And if you are traveling that means that you’re trying to avoid something that no one enjoys: traffic! So we thought we’d look at some of our favorite crowdsourcing and traffic stories.

Personally, at IdeaScale we all talk about how excited we are for the age of self-driving cars. Once that innovation arrives, not only will it reduce the number of driving-related deaths and clear up traffic patterns, it will mean you can finally watch Netflix DURING your commute. In the meantime, however here are some of our favorite traffic-solving crowdsourcing projects:

Waze: Waze is still one of the most powerful navigation tools when it comes to traffic. Not only do you get the regular traffic data, it is augmented by the crowd who reports road hazards, the presence of police, potential slowdowns, and more. They’ve even gamified your participation which some people say makes driving (even in traffic) more fun.

TowIt: reports parking violations and road hazards. When the crowd reports those things, it makes it easier for the city (or other responsible party) to do something about it and clean up conditions

Luxe: We’ve reported on crowdsourced parking app Park Circa in the past which isn’t around anymore, but in its place we still have Luxe (okay, maybe not crowdsourcing) which provides on demand valet wherever you’re going in the cities of San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. If you’ve ever tried to find parking in San Francisco, you know the value that easily handing off your car can have. And (if you ask them) they’ll wash your car and fill up the gas tank. Pretty great how full service it is!

What are your favorite traffic and parking apps? Travel safe today, tomorrow and for the rest of the holiday season!

Crowdsourcing Ways to Save Students Money

In 2016, NYU’s 16th President, Andrew Hamilton, made clear that he would carry forward a commitment to make NYU more affordable for more students. As part of that commitment, President Hamilton established the Affordability Steering Committee and the Affordability Working Group to create a structure for engagement and consultation across the NYU community. Knowing that they had a wealth of knowledge within their campus network, the steering committee and the working group launched a crowdsourcing campaign to their students asking for ways to reduce costs that would help the President meet his commitment. Not only did they get tons of great ideas that they started implementing right away – they predicted that those ideas alone would be able to save students millions of dollars.

One of the great things about crowdsourcing ideas, however, is that it is not just an ideation opportunity, but it also help you conduct a new form of market research from which themes emerge. When NYU ran their campaign they noticed the following groups of ideas that offered opportunities for student savings:

  • Lower direct costs: this means costs that go directly to students like textbooks, meal planning, etc. Finding ways to reduce costs here (like providing more secondhand text books) is a great start to reducing out-of-pocket costs for students.
  • New resources: these new resources might be financial aid or grant opportunities for different groups of students based on need, background, or otherwise.
  • Savings: meaning administrative and IT savings opportunities.
  • Access: there might be other smaller scale funding opportunities (like micro-scholarships), so both identifying and socializing these opportunities could potentially save students money, as well.
  • Financial Education: sometimes offering financial education will help students make better decisions which will not just benefit them in their time at NYU but throughout their adult lives.
  • Local Benefits: New York can be an expensive city, finding ways to have the local environment lower costs and encourage matriculation benefits students and the city.
  • Time to Degree: some students want to fast track their education and that decreases costs for everyone. Offering new ways to accelerate the process is a great way to source new savings opportunities.

To read the full story about the New York University Affordability Campaign, download the case study here. 

Introducing: CBS’s Wisdom of the Crowd

CBS's Wisdom of the CrowdCBS debuted a new show Sunday night called “Wisdom of the Crowd.” It’s about a tech CEO, played by Jeremy Piven, who builds a crowdsourcing platform to help find his daughter’s killer.

Sophia, as the platform is named, is essentially a network of solvers who can contribute information to help find Mia Tanner’s real killer, not unlike, minus the murder part. Ostensibly, Sophia then wades through the noise to find the tips of value.

As an Innovation Strategist at a company that also built a platform that specializes in crowdsourcing, I found the show’s premise intriguing. Not in a good way, though. I saw it as an opportunity to stretch out the ol’ snark muscles and really rip into it. While it did have its share of ridiculousness, it had a few surprising parallels to the work we do every day. I picked a few of my favorite parts from the show and connected them to our reality.

WISDOM OF THE CROWD: A few minutes into the show, Tanner (no word on whether there’s any relation to the other famous San Francisco Tanner family) used the Parable of the Ox to explain crowdsourcing to the doubting Detective Cavanaugh: “100 years ago, there was a scientist, Sir Francis Galton. He went to a county fair. He asked 800 people to guess the weight of a prize-winning ox. No one could get it exactly right. But then, when he averaged in all of the answers, they were dead on, within a half a pound. That’s what it does.”

REALITY: OK, yes, we use that story all the time.

WOTC: “Crowdsourcing is sifting through the dirt until you find the gold. 90% of anything is garbage, but 10% of everything, that’s a helluva lot of bling.”

REALITY: I get the idea, but it’s a bit extreme compared to the reality. Crowdsourcing and open innovation aren’t famine or feast. There’s a lot of room between dirt and gold.

WOTC: They were hacked like a day after releasing the platform, then they guy who hacked them literally came to their front door to introduce himself.

REALITY: That’s definitely how it works.

WOTC: Their Head of Engineering is a dreamy Brit.

REALITY: No, but our Head of Product is.

WOTC: Tanner offers $100,000,000 “to anyone that can help identify or apprehend the killer of my daughter.”

REALITY: Well, yes, incentivization is an important part of any crowdsourcing effort. However, when it’s financial, which isn’t always the case, it typically has way fewer zeros than Tanner’s bounty. Oftentimes, it’s not money at all; it’s lunch with the boss, recognition in communications materials or a banquet, or even some extra time off. For more tips on incentivization with shallower pockets than Tanner’s, check out our resource on creative, non-monetary awards.

WOTC: While it didn’t happen on the pilot, they’re probably going to find and convict the real killer.

REALITY: While we feel what IdeaScale and IdeaBuzz do is pretty sexy — finding ways to repurpose recycled glass, helping cure cancer, and helping accelerate more energy-efficient technology to market — it isn’t TV sexy, solving-murder sexy, CBS Sunday Night sexy. As Tanner put it, “People want to be a part of something meaningful.”

That, we can agree on. If you want to learn more about joining our crowdsourcing brigade, get started at or As for me, consider this my two weeks’ notice. I’m with Piven.

Understanding the Source of Employee Innovation

Boredom is one of those facets of life that consistently amaze. How can any person be bored when there is so much around us that stimulates our intellect and inspires our awe? And why do we continuously and mindlessly scroll through television channels and facebook feeds instead of focusing our energy on creating something of beauty or value?

Boredom persists. In the workplace, we call this phenomenon, disengagement. All managers dread this and go to great lengths to improve engagement in the workplace. Whether it’s motivating staff, reaching customers, or simply having a conversation, employers want engaging interactions. They crave opinions and other forms of employee feedback, especially when those choice pieces of feedback help to directly further company goals.

The dilemma is, how do managers create engagement? Employees can’t be beaten with sticks (you can try but your HR team will likely frown upon it). You can’t yell at people to not be bored or to focus more.

No, the secret to employee engagement is curiosity and challenge. When people are challenged, their minds will naturally start formulating solutions. We call this, creativity. Marketing people call it, innovation. What follows are a few pieces of advice to encourage innovation (or creativity) from your employees.

Engagement Powers Activate!

Each day, we are flooded with information and stimuli. Take, for example, that little number in the corner of your inbox that numbers emails in the thousands or tens of thousands. Those are pieces of information that we have to analyze, prioritize and process. Our brains sort this information into two buckets — interesting and unworthy.

We actually have a dedicated neural network that manages this process which is called, The Reticular Activating System (RAS).  The RAS has two main functions; 1) highlighting relevant information in real time, and 2) stimulating pattern recognition to fuel innovative thinking.

In terms of our biology, the RAS monitors our shift between rest and wakefulness. Functionally, as it applies to how we communicate and perform throughout the day, the RAS determines whether we should tune stimuli out or tune them in.

Recognizing how the RAS functions provides an opportunity to improve engagement in the workplace. It can help us determine how we communicate and how often. Should we send someone thirty emails or have a ten minute conversation?

Are people falling asleep in meetings? If they look disengaged or bored, they are tuning you out. That means it’s time to change the content or format of your meeting. When people are engaged, they are attentive and responsive in meetings. They inspired to be more creative in their tasks and find new ways to accomplish their goals.

Reinforcing Engagement

Useful information activates the RAS to pay attention. When new or interesting information is in front of us, we focus. When that moment passes in a meeting, and we are told information that is irrelevant or that we already know, our RAS prompts us to disengage.

The best way to engage employees is to give them something that inspires curiosity. Being told a statement requires no thought on the part of the person to whom information is being conveyed. Being asked a question, though, prompts us to think about the answer.

The more questions we ask others, the more that they feel engaged – and that engagement persists over time as long as the questions remain pertinent. A question becomes part of our subconscious, and as time goes on, we are drawn to information that relates to what we were asked.

Leading Staff to Innovate

People managers can use the Reticular Activating Systems of their employees to engage staff in positive directions for the company. But do people always view the company’s success as their own success? How can you keep your staff focused and have them care about outcomes?

One way is to engage your staff by enrolling them in creating their own personal quarterly objectives that are tied to the quarterly objectives of the team and the company.

Another way to engage your staff is to move them away from a focus on individual success and towards a focus on success for the team. You can ask them what can be done to improve a situation and encourage them to crowdsource ideas from the rest of the staff. People who are challenged and curious and who are working towards a collective goal are more likely to innovate, instead of just passively doing their jobs.

Finally, let them know that their ideas have value through consistent recognition and reward.

Companies can provide personal incentives (a bonus or recognition of a job well done) to motivate individual participation. Employees learn that contributing to the company’s success will produce personal success for them as well.

Low employee engagement continues to baffle Human Resource professionals, middle managers, and company leaders the world over. But the solution is really not that complicated. Pay attention to employees and notice when they tune out and when they tune in. Then ask questions to keep them curious and challenge them so that their natural propensity towards innovation remains activated.

This blog is a guest post by David Mizne, Content Strategist of 15five

Seven Critical Crowdsourcing and Open Innovation Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t get frustrated with your crowdsourcing campaign.

Crowdsourcing and open innovation are great ideas. But like any great ideas, great results need smart execution. Too many ideas fall into a crowdsourcing gap, so here are the problems to avoid.

Unfocused Strategy

By far the biggest problem is people have an idea and decide, vaguely, to throw crowdsourcing at the problem. But throwing an idea at the wall to see what sticks isn’t going to work. You need a clear, detailed strategy before you start any crowdsourcing campaign. If you’re planning to expand your ideas, write a very clear outline of how you expect to progress, just like any other project.

Unclear Goals

Another surprising problem many crowdsourcing campaigns have is that they aren’t entirely sure how they want to use crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing will be tough if your crowd doesn’t understand why you need them. If you don’t have clear goals, your campaign will stall before it even starts. Set realistic goals; know exactly what you want, what your definition of success for the campaign is, and what you’ll do once the campaign has been wrapped.

Choosing Crowdsourcing Instead Of Open Innovation

Crowdsourcing and open innovation are two very different things. Crowdsourcing is a public, open idea pulling from the entire world, or at least the part of the world from which you can gain attention. Open innovation is a more limited process that draws from your company. Using the right type will help make your campaign successful and it will also generally make the campaign smoother. So look closely at how you’ll implement it.

Choosing The Wrong Crowd

Another factor that can derail your campaign is catering to the wrong crowd. Sometimes your consumers need to weigh in on a campaign. At other times, your business customers will be your primary audience. Any crowdsourcing program needs to target the right audience, or you’ll find yourself with no sourcing crowd.

Don’t make these mistakes with your crowdsourcing campaign.

Not Rallying Support

Crowdsourcing campaigns need to be supported not just by the crowd but also from the company running the campaign. Any crowdsourcing campaign can experience pushback at the beginning, sometimes legitimate, such as lawyers raising questions about IP law, and just naysaying about crowdsourcing in general. Before you launch any campaign, get your stakeholders on board. Address concerns where you are able, and get everyone on board.

Going It Alone

Another common mistake is assuming that you have to do absolutely everything, from building the platform to determining the rewards you’re offering and making sure they get delivered as promised. You not only don’t have to do everything alone, you probably won’t have the time. Working with a platform designed for crowdsourcing from the ground up can ensure a better campaign.

Ignoring Marketing

One of the big mistakes of crowdsourcing is assuming that the crowd will also take care of the marketing. In truth, you’ll need to figure out how you’ll catch and hold the attention of your crowd, instead of counting on word of mouth.

As you can see, crowdsourcing is not a tool to be used lightly. Before jumping in, know what you’re doing. To start building your successful crowdsourcing campaign, join the IdeaScale community.

Incentives for Participation or Incentives for Success? What Works?

incentives for participationIn a fast-paced corporate environment where there are many expectations and a steady stream of work, how (and more importantly) why, would you carve out time to contribute to your company’s new ideation platform?

Recently a customer asked me if I could share some insight as to what type of incentives really work to drive engagement across divisions and companies. This is an extremely common question for new customers looking to ensure that they can justify their investment in an innovation management platform by ensuring good participation volumes. This customer in particular was interested in the impact of career advancement opportunities on participation volume.

It’s a great question because career advancement is known to be an excellent motivator and yet despite the evidenceour recent report showed that only 8% of our customers included “career growth” as one of their explicit incentive offerings.

While extrapolating success simply based on this is a little too messy to create a clean statement of fact, it is worth noting that every one of these respondents indicated that their IdeaScale innovation management program proved value within the first month of existence.

It turns out that successful incentive programs require a flexible, multi-faceted approach. Here’s why: your incentive strategy should be driven by your crowdsourcing objectives. In other words, if your goal is to source high-caliber, implementation-ready ideas then participation volume is simply one of several things you might want to optimize. Given that you may be sourcing different types of solutions, consider also focusing on how your incentives will impact the nature of the participation (e.g. highly detailed and technical, casual and quick or out-of-the-box), the specific type of participation (e.g. voting, commenting, scoring…) and the roles and composition of the participants (experts, front-line employees, customers, etc…).

For more information I recommend an insightful book called “Wiser” by Cass Sunstein and Reid Hastie. The book focuses on how to develop and leverage smart groups, specifically how incentives can lead to best solutions.

One of the most interesting things I learned was how individuals within teams perform better as individuals when incentives are offered for the team as a whole. In other words, if you offer a prize to the team/department from which the best idea comes from, you’ll achieve a few things: 1. The classic extrinsic reward-type motivation, 2. enhanced collaboration via shared objectives, and 3. reduced risk to individuals for stepping outside of groupthink (commonly accepted wisdom) or traditional hierarchy, thus leading to a healthier diversity of input and output.

Regarding the type of career advancement you can actually offer, you might consider creating the opportunity for the idea submitter to continue working on their ideas with flex time. based on the work some professors at the University of Michigan have done called “job crafting” which I wrote a little bit about here, This would be a great signal to all employees that you’re interested in allowing employees to drive positive change within their own roles and based on the job crafting literature, this can have some pretty powerful impacts organizationally and drive continued participation as employees would see the idea platform as a way to drive this process. From the Wiser perspective, by doing this, you’re also helping to inspire participants to share ideas that they are passionate about rather than what they might think management wants to hear and thus increasing the caliber of participation rather than simply volume. You can also find a list of non-monetary rewards to incentivize engagement on our resources page. 

Have you read Wiser or do you have other insights to share on what makes a great incentive program? Let me know [email protected] or on twitter @devinmcintire

This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

This post is by Devin Mcintire, Innovation Technology Advisor at IdeaScale

Identifying Opportunities for Crowdsourcing in Education

Academia works best when it works together.

Where does crowdsourcing fit in education? The idea of the wisdom of crowds in a calling defined by a teacher at the head of the class can seem contrary. But, in education, there’s a lot of room for crowdsourcing, and it can be a source of innovative ideas.

The Power Of Teamwork

The truth is that educators and professors have been crowdsourcing well before Kickstarter came along. The human mind has always been the most powerful computer, and indeed in some cases, universities and schools are using the crowd for brute force, and often the rewards can be stunning. For example, the philosopher Jeremy Bentham left behind 40,000 pages of untranscribed work, so University College London launched the Transcribe Bentham Project. Anyone can log on and begin typing out the words of a great philosopher, many of which people haven’t read in decades. Other transcription projects let people explore dead languages, or otherwise tap directly into history in a way only academics tend to enjoy, giving a wider audience an appreciation of academic disciplines.

Some are slightly more in the field of open innovation. Professors and doctors around the world are calling on networks of colleagues to help them solve problems as simple as identifying fish or as complex as offering women in the Developing World proper medical care. But in academia, crowdsourcing can be a useful tool for getting work done. But what about the flip-side?

Crowdsourcing improves education.

Crowdsourcing For Students

Another use for crowdsourcing is to help schools figure out what students need. Oddly, one of the earliest “trendy” sites on the internet, before even Facebook, was a crowdsourcing tool, in its own way. Rate My Professor may have gotten a notorious reputation among both students and academics, especially when a professor was issued a “chili pepper” (in other words, students think they’re hot.) But it also offered a valuable, if unfiltered, method for professors to see how students viewed their lessons in real time. It undeniably had quite a bit of noise, in the form of complaining students, compared to signal, but professors have learned that it’s worth listening to students’ opinions.

That’s expanded in other, more official and chili-pepper free, ways. For example, Ucrime is a crowdsourced website that lets college collect reports, determine the responses of their internal police forces, and get data that it might otherwise simply never be able to collect. Others, like Scitable, allow students to ease themselves into writing more advanced research papers, while also improving the quality of papers and giving professors better work to build on in their courses.

Crowdsourcing, in the end, is about achieving the real potential of education; spreading knowledge to everyone. Whether it means directly involving people in history or bringing in both professionals and enthusiastic amateurs to catalog animals or artifacts, or simply improving the way people study, crowdsourcing brings down the barriers between schools and the broader public. It opens the door to everyone in the community and beyond getting involved, learning something, and taking that knowledge with them as they go out in the world to share it. If you’re ready to start teaching beyond the classroom, download our Crowdsourcing in Education white paper.

Why Aren’t You Crowdsourcing?

Last year Gartner published an article entitled “The 5 Most Effective, Least Used Digital Innovation Hacks” which listed crowdsourcing, differentiated funding, differentiated metrics, startup innovation, and formal innovation management. These “hacks” (as they called them) had the greatest potential to improve a company’s capabilities and functions.

Of course, crowdsourcing and innovation management are closely related, but not everyone understands the potential benefits of crowdsourcing and innovation management. It’s one of the reasons that crowdsourcing and innovation management champions must communicate the benefits of such programs.

Here are some of the most commonly cited benefits of crowdsourced innovation management.

Better Ideas. Steven Johnson explored the nature of disruptive and creative ideas that have transformed our society. He noted that the ideas that connect and merge with others are the ones that are more likely to be transformative, powerful, and impact the future of a business. Launching a crowdsourced program allows for those connections to happen and for better ideas to emerge as a result.

Lower Costs. Opening up the boundaries between different disciplines inside or outside of an organization maximizes the value of ideation. Because these programs aren’t limited by one department and people can participate part-time in these creative exercises, crowd innovation programs generally have lower costs than traditional research & development departments.

Viral Marketing. New ideas that make progress generate interest and excitement. If you’re collaborating with employees, they might volunteer to help empower change within an organization. If you’re collaborating with customers, you have the opportunity to turn these changes into marketing campaigns that will build an audience before a new product or process even gets to market.

So why aren’t you crowdsourcing already?

To learn more about the value of crowdsourcing and how to improve your innovation management program, download our infographic on the subject on our resources page.