Posted by: Katherine Raleigh
Programme Manager on Wed 23 Nov

Do all crowds have wisdom? Yes, according to guest expert Dr. Matthew Mount from Leeds Business School. This month, KnowledgeBrief clients explored how to bolster their internal innovation capacity with crowdsourcing, and the managerial challenges that need addressing when unlocking the wisdom of crowds.

The future is all about participation and the ability to co-create via an increasingly connected world. This new way of doing things – crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, collaboration and open innovation – is challenging business models and workings of organisations across the board.

This is offering an immense opportunity to rethink and reinvent the conventional processes of generating novel ideas and solutions to the most vexing innovation challenges. Here are some key highlights taken from this month’s Innovation Day that leaders should consider before they can leverage the wisdom of crowds.

Widen your dimensions on knowledge

It is a very simple equation. The more people you engage in the specific task, the more ideas you will get within the specific task.

The important issue is what you ask the crowds. Crowds will not be productive if you have divisive topics and ask the wrong questions. Instead, you must consider what it is you want to know, and think about the best way to do that.

Furthermore, consider who to ask. Research shows that if you involve many different groups (breadth), it is likely one of the groups will bring about an idea that will marginally improve the solution. If you target one specific group and take a deep dive into the ideas (depth), you can potentially create a more dramatic transformation.

Crowds can direct your attention to the top ideas

Managerial attention is a finite resource and when faced with a huge amount of ideas, it can be hard to identify the most innovate solution.

The latest research from Dr. Matthew Mount, Leeds Business School, shows that crowds can effectively be used not only for idea generation, but also idea selection. In his experiment, Dr. Mount compared a traditional managerial evaluation panel and a crowd of evaluators, each ranking separately the same pool of ideas. The results found that both groups ranked the same top ideas as each other.

By using crowds, managerial attention can be directed towards the most rated ideas without having to filter through them. It directs attention to a smaller, manageable volume of ideas, so that the one extreme innovative solution can be more likely identified.

So, what can be crowdsourced?

The short answer is a collaborative or crowd-centric approach can be applied to everything. There are different levels of crowdsourcing – for example, problem solving and seeking feedback on solutions might require one approach, and a more creative agenda would require an alternative way.

It is true that by asking the crowd, you might get an answer that you don’t want. But it is the word of the crowd. It is worth listening to.

Next month, clients – including Virgin Media, The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Trust and DHL – will be diving into an insightful and thought-provoking session exploring future technologies, innovations and revolutions, and looking at what leaders need to consider to benefit from the advancements ahead. Find out more here.

Be prepared to learn from what you hear. It might not be what you wanted but it is the word of the crowd.

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