"The amount of knowledge and talent dispersed among the human race has always outstripped our capacity to harness it. Crowdsourcing corrects that - but in doing so, it also unleashes the forces of creative distribution."
Having been seconded by Marketers on Demand (a very cool foray into flexible marketing staffing solutions) to lead a cozy and well-informed group discussion on the book Crowdsourcing last week, I, like most delinquent book clubbers, raced madly through the last few chapters of Howe's book. This treatise on the power of mining communities admittedly deserves more of my attention - the 8 chapters I read was very good.
Even though I've been exposed to many 2.0 experts through my consulting with Don Tapscott's group nGenera, I found Howe to have a fresh perspective on the subject with voluminous examples and a gold mine of a summary on the topic in chapter 11.
His quick and dirty summary on crowdsourcing:
1) Pick the Right Model - different crowd flavours fit different different objectives - although I cut it more finely than Howe, his breakdown was - is it collective intelligence/crowd wisdom, crowd creativity, crowd voting, crowd funding or a combo that you're after -different features, platforms and people may be harnessed depending on the goal
2) Pick the Right Crowd - find your right enthusiastic 5,000 - the optimum size for a crowdsourced solution
3) Offer The Right Incentives - glory, interaction, connection, learning, a challenge, improving skills, cash or any of our 36 reasons - find out what your crowd's carrot is and use it
4) Keep the Pink Slips in the Drawer - don't use it to reduce jobs - use it to optimize the ones that are there already there and create competitive advantage
5) The Dumbness of Crowds- The Benevolent Dictator Principle - good communities are guided by well-meaning individuals, crowds have a tough time organizing themselves, ergo, someone needs to decide
6) Keep it Simple, Break it Down - people have limited attention spans - increase the simplicity and clarity of your request and decrease the time required of each crowdsourced appeal
7) Remember Sturgeon's Law - crowdsourcing provides a previous non-existing outlet for real talent which can provide better solutions and enormous insight, having said that 90% you'll get back from it is crap
8) Remember the 10% - if you have a glut of submissions, have your super involved people decide what's best, not yourself
9)The Community is Always Right - yes, a company can play the role of helping hand, decider, shoulder to cry on, dean of discipline but at the end of the day, you will follow the community
10) Ask Not What the Crowd Can Do for You but What You Can Do for the Crowd -not an easy thing for corporate owners who are tasked on building there own islands of wealth, but people are drawn to participate because of their own psychological, social or emotional needs
And from my crib notes that night...some debatable questions that were created by the book:
- do crowds truly produce better results?
- is crowdsourcing a good thing for society?
- is it appropriate for everything?
- do brands benefit from recruiting a widely dispersed group of people or a narrow band of like minded people? (my only critique - Howe takes both sides of this debate)
- Canada - where are we on this collaboration-inspired development?
- What is the future of crowdsourcing?
- How does crowdsourcing change as more companies use it?
Thanks again to Craig Lund and a really engaged group of people that night...I'm heartened to see that much intellect and curiosity in our marketing midst.