Is Crowdsourcing a Fad or a Foundational Element?

Much has been written about ‘crowdsourcing’ and the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ over the past several years, including “Crowdsourcing” by Jeff Howe – a contributing editor at Wired magazine, and “Wisdom of the Crowd” by James Surowiecki – a staff writer at The New Yorker.

Crowdsourcing – “The act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.” – Jeff Howe

‘Wisdom of the Crowd’ – “Refers to the process of taking into account the collective opinion of a group of individuals rather than a single expert to answer a question.” – Wikipedia

For those of you not familiar with crowdsourcing, here is a good video from Jeff Howe:

So, what will happen to ‘crowdsourcing’ and ‘wisdom of the crowd’ as more and more companies start to employ these techniques.

Will the crowd remain wise or lose its predictive powers?

One thing is certain. Organizations will continue to use ‘crowdsourcing’ and ‘wisdom of the crowd’ together to help them find ideas that will resonate with their targets.

Organizations will, however, have to work harder to market their initiatives as the competition increases for people’s time, if they are to maximize the value they accrue from the effort.

What do you think?

I recently used crowdsourcing to source the design for my upcoming Nine Innovation Roles interactive card game and received several good designs and one awesome one. Now I am using crowdfunding on IndieGoGo to raise the money to make it a reality and will be bringing sample cards with me to the Front End of Innovation 2012 in Orlando next week (Save 20% with discount code FEI12BRADEN).

Oh, and I will also be looking to crowdsource a software application for people to use on their iPad, iPhone, Android, or other mobile device too, so stay tuned!

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3 thoughts on “Is Crowdsourcing a Fad or a Foundational Element?

  1. Ron Wince

    Great blog Braden

    Your premise that companies will find challenges in finding participants for crowdsourcing is right on. Additionally I think that crowdsourcing will become more difficult to define. What I mean by this is when companies jump on the bandwagon of the latest thinking we often see them distort or stretch the definition of the concept or idea to be able to become a part of the movement. This will cause confusion which will also make crowdsourcing more challenging for companies.

    A final thought – despite the enthusiasm of crowdsourcing the population of a community that genuinely participates is a fairly small number – along the lines of 1% if my memory serves. This means that successful crowdsourcing in the future will hinge on the ability to engage the other 99% of the community. This will require less of a one-size-fits-all approach to engagement as well as an expansion of creativity on the “how” of engaging the communities.

    Thanks for the opportunity to learn!

  2. chris kalaboukis

    If you ask me, crowdsourcing will be an essential piece of the next wave of innovation – i don’t think we can move forward with any product without some element of work fulfilled via crowdsourcing. The human element is too essential.

  3. Howard Orloff

    Very Well Done. The impact crowdfunding will have on the future of finance can not be understated. Taking a very contrary opinion, I believe it will actually minimize fraud in the financial system. As the “Crowd” is much better at detection then a government agency ever can or will be.


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