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06.10.14 | blog
Author: Carly Kaplan

Getting the Most Return from the Crowd: The Secret to Crowdsourcing

Living in a world on the cusp of innovation and change, organizations are looking for the best solutions to their traditional challenges, trying to stay ahead of the competition with the lowest impact on the bottom line. In today’s day and age, staying ahead of the game is much more than having a catchy slogan, but rather the combination of creative thinking, virtual technology and operational efficiencies. Those three variables grouped together often appear as a daunting threesome to executives; however, mining collective intelligence, assessing quality and processing work can achieve great innovation for businesses as they distribute tasks to a large, willing group of people, who are not their employees – crowdsourcing.

As organizations continue to search for innovation and answers to their most puzzling questions, they are turning away from dedicated professionals, instead opting for a partnership with the crowd. The crowd poses not only a threat to managers, reluctant to delegate tasks to the mass fearing theft of intellectual property, irresponsibility and lower quality work, but also a sticky situation as global organizations are built on the foundations of internal innovation - recruiting only the most specialized, devoted professionals to transform their most vexing challenges into groundbreaking ideas. Yet, as the idea of crowdsourcing suggests, organizations are reaching out to the crowd to foster creativity and intellect. Thus this large group of people choose when they want to engage with businesses, offering their criticism and suggestions, while welcoming the opportunity to learn about the problems they choose to address, solely for the reward of intrinsic gratification and polishing their reputation. The traditional approach, seeking a solution internally, does not work as effectively as the crowd. Employees are not seeking opportunities outside of their acumen, only willing to help for the promise of promotion or raise, or by decree of their superior, leaving them no choice but to oblige. This often hinders problem solving and novelty, as employees are not always working on a topic of great interest to them. 

Crowdsourcing should not invoke fear of failure, but rather optimism for advancement. To kick start your crowdsourcing efforts, these five tips will ensure you get the biggest return – large market share and innovation – from the crowd.

1. Work Life Balance

The people in your crowd are not your employees. They are not interested in working from 9 to 5 on tasks that a manager has assigned them. These people are merely dedicated to the same cause as your business; keen on using their knowledge to better assist your business in its endeavors. With set guidelines, benchmarks and a completion date, give the crowd the freedom to work on their terms. The days they choose, the times they choose. The freedom to control the way they work and live, without the exemplary boss looking over their shoulder. This will undoubtedly motivate the crowd to put their best foot (work) forward.

2. Virtualize the crowd

The decentralized, specialized nature of crowds operate more efficiently than even     the largest global companies, as the crowd has the ability to approach challenges across     the world with the advent of technology and virtualization. Virtualization has made crowdsourcing a much simpler, powerful tool as managers are able to easily manage and support the crowd, diluting the reservations mentioned above. Not only does a     virtual platform allow the crowd to lend their cultural aptitude to your project, but it also reduces operational costs, as hundreds of thousands of people collaborate to achieve a common goal. Virtualizing the crowd also shields your business from unplanned events – business continuity. With the crowd geographically dispersed all over the world, innovation never ceases. Members are always able to continue working, picking up extra work to compensate for part of the crowd, who may be caught in a disaster or hit by an unexpected event.

3. Virtual Teams

Although not always required, virtual teams are one of the most effective tools to generate innovative solutions as it relates to crowdsourcing. Virtual teams provide members of the crowd with a sense of unification, discouraging feelings of isolation, while encouraging camaraderie. With solidarity and collective brainpower, on a smaller scale, comes the generation of novel ideas strewn with cultural differences to assess benefits and risks, advantages and disadvantages, synthesizing trailblazing ideas and garnering your business the largest market share. 

4. Gamification and Incentives

Innovating a solution to your most challenging issues should be fun. An otherwise ordinary task can turn into a viral sensation, eliciting feedback from countries across the globe. Stirring healthy competition and rewarding the crowd based on performance motivates members to outperform themselves and each other, sparking ideas, collaboration and creativity to stimulate innovation. The crowd is motivated by the following, monetary benefits, enhancing their knowledge and/or skills and refining their reputation. Tugging on these three motivators bring your business one step closer to innovation.

The secret to crowdsourcing is simple. To get the most return from the crowd, stay true to the basis crowdsourcing was built on, adding your model’s creative flair.

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