By STR Team
Finding the right outside talent and keeping it motivated is the key, Abrahamson tells Ankita Rai
How is crowdsourcing different from crowdstorming?
I like to think about crowdsourcing in terms of what we’re asking participants to do. For example, in microwork, like mechanical turk, we’re asking people to do small things like, identifying information in an image or verifying a business listing. In crowdstorming, we focus on actions that crowds can take in relation to ideas: finding ideas, finding people or organisations to come up with ideas, offering feedback and rating/ranking ideas.
While writing the book, I realised that some of the basic patterns were pretty old. They had been described by Alex Osborne (the “O” in BBDO) when he introduced the world to brainstorming just after WWII. Osborne was mostly concerned with small groups of people coming up with and evaluating ideas. My co-authors and I see networked crowds where Osborne saw folks in a conference room.
Are contests just another name for crowdstorming?
Contests are a subset of crowdstorming. We identified three patterns of crowdstorming: search, collaborative, integrated. Contests fall in the search bucket because they are focused on searching for the best ideas. The contest has a few winners, so many people don’t receive cash for their contributions.
In mass collaboration model, people contribute without being paid directly — think open source or wikipedia. But the most interesting crowdstorm pattern is only a few years old. You can see this pattern at work in organisations like Quirky (consumer products manufacturer in the US) or Giffgaff (mobile operator in the UK). In these patterns, crowds are integrated into key value creation processes and people are compensated. This ability to measure and compensate for all types of contributions is what makes this model so powerful.
How should companies use “outside talent to the core”?
Stop thinking about inside and outside, but think more about where you’d add people if you had the space or the budget. For instance, GE would want to find as many teams as possible for building products related to sustainable energy. Or Pepsi would want to search for one of the most important TV advertisements by moving beyond agency partners. Or why Nike recently partnered with Techstars to help them find teams to work with them on new applications for the Nike Fuel band.
The question is how will you find these people and how do you motivate them? Firms used many creative ways, such as GE offers partnerships and venture capital, as does Nike. Pepsi offered cash and bragging rights of having your creative work seen by massive audience. Most of these firms take help from a variety of partners. Working with media partners and content producers is essential. It is also useful to work with specialty software vendors or process organisers to help you organise the process.
Outside talent can do a lot more. For example, Amazon Studios asks their customers to review proposed film concepts and offer ratings and reviews. The problem with these feedback tasks is that the number of participants is huge.And this presents a new problem: Who to listen to? How do you value and compensate them for it? For now, this seems to be the domain of start-ups, but bigger firms are finding ways to benefit through partnerships.