Corporate crowdsourcing

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Last month, we wrote about the stories that corporations tell themselves when they say that internal knowledge is enough to fuel innovation. Here’s another example of a story corporate innovators tell themselves:

Corporate crowdsourcing is a great way to fill the innovation pipeline.

Crowdsourcing can often be a “good-in-theory, bad-in-execution” problem. We’ve worked with three major consumer goods companies who launched different crowdsourcing platforms, ranging from a simple shared Excel sheet to web-based systems built for innovation input and voting. It’s surprising to see the fanfare around the launch of these systems because there’s usually no long-term management of the inputs and outputs. The typical pattern is a huge amount of excitement around the implementation, lots of entries from within the company, then…crickets.

What we’ve seen happen in most cases is that those who input ideas rarely get any feedback, so they send in a few ideas, and then lose interest. And on the flip side, those who are responsible for assessing the ideas often get overwhelmed by the number of entries, and disillusioned by the lack of strategy or human-centered needs from the input.

To really change the game, corporations should be transparent about their strategic directions, and ensure new ideas align to a strategy and problem to be solved, and then give feedback to contributors letting them know what worked and what didn’t. It’s not a launch-and-leave scenario. An idea pipeline has to have thoughtful, committed resources, and go somewhere real to be meaningful.

Are there any “stories” you or your colleagues are telling yourselves? More importantly, what could  you do to change them?

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Karen Hunter is a Director of Innovation at 352, where her constant curiosity and drive for real-world business solutions helps our clients solve meaningful problems in transformative ways.