The best idea could come from anywhere
Innovation has become important for many organizations. Whether it’s the threat of startups eating up business or the possibilities new technologies provide to do things more efficient and effective, organizations need to innovate to stay relevant.
Innovation starts with ideas, and it is no wonder therefor that more and more organisations see crowdsourcing as a way to generate the ideas as a starting point for innovation. Even more, one of the more simple reasons to use crowdsourcing is that by increasing the number of people that generate ideas, you will also get more ideas. And having many ideas is the best guarantee to have good ideas, as, e.g., the twice Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling and management writer Gary Hamel have already argued earlier.
Having many ideas to select the best ones is an obvious reason for using a crowd, but new research shows that there is also a another reason. As the number of crowdsourcing initiatives is growing, there is more data available to analyze the way crowdsourcing works. We can find patterns of good and bad behavior and can do research into the drivers of success in crowdsourcing.
One of the interesting findings of a number of current research projects is the fact the best idea in a crowdsourcing campaign can come from anywhere. Analyzing the selected ideas of campaigns in relation to the characteristics of the submitters of those ideas and the success those submitters had in other campaigns does not show any relationship between submitter and winning idea. In other words: the best idea could come from any person, or, the other way around: if you exclude people from a crowdsourcing initiative, you might miss out on the best idea.
We had already experienced in our crowdsourcing practice that our clients where surprised by the fact that winning ideas came from persons they would not have selected for an ideation workshop. Like the maintenance engineer in a utility company coming up with an idea that delivered a million euro annual savings. Or an assembly line worker coming up with the winning idea to speed up the process. These persons weren’t the first ones management would think about when they’d wanted to generate ideas for innovation. These ideas would have never been uncovered if they hadn’t used crowdsourcing for idea generation. So crowdsourcing not only works in a numeric way because it generates more ideas, more value might be created because it allows other people to come up with ideas than would normally invited to share their ideas.