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Friday, December 21, 2007

James Todhunter, Crowd Innovation

A very interesting discussion started by James Todhunter at realinnovation on Crowd Innovation has resulted in different reactions.

And James put all the specific comments and his reactions on his blog as well here.

I dont want to re-post the whole discussion here. Just to high light some key points

1. Original Post of James (my summarization!)

Crowdsourcing popularity will be short lived as there is lack of credible evidence to support its productivity. History teaches us that the wisdom of the crown is a fiction and that the intelligence of the mob regresses to the mean. The best achievements in sustainable innovation are seen in those organizations that understand that the quest for innovation can not be divorced from internal expertise. This is not to say that external knowledge and contribution is not of value. In fact, the integration of external concept sources is vital to breaking free of natural inertial forces that develop within organizations. But this integration must be done in a rational manner guided by the in depth understanding of the enterprises capabilities, objectives, and the needs of the client.

2. Ellen Domb's Comments (she says watch and wait - giving 180 days for the buzz to buzz off may be :))
Crowdsourcing will have its niche of usefulness, especially in development of consumer products, where people who participate in influencing a product development are also likely to help with the word-of-mouth advertising.
Let's check again in 6 months and see if the buzz has gone out of this.

3. My comments I reproduce verbatim
The world is changing fundamentally. I really dont know how would one attribute the success of Open Source Movement - the self-organizing capability of crowds driven by selfish goals - yet working towards creating something that is not done by any top-down plan per se - is sweeping the existing command control structures - developed in the last millennium in ways that are unprecedented. Starfishes are the future organization structures not the spiders (to quote the current book of the same name) - I believe hierarchies had their day - it is the melting structures towards loosely coupled networks that are going to play bigger role then they had - the age of Co-Creation is here - in a disruptive way - in my opinion. Hence having a very strong negation of anything different is not really going to help enterprises to thrive - Choice of one path is oh -so last century :) - New millennium speaks for embracing all and leaving none!

4. spacecadette says there is merit especially in reducing cost

5. Anil Rathi proposes a designer crowd sourcing approach - which his company is practicing for example.

"On the other hand, a well designed, structured "crowdcasting" activity with carefully framed questions which channels ideas from targeted audiences will have a better chance of producing "refined" ideas.In summary, the more open-ended your crowd-xing activity is, the more open-ended "raw" ideas you'll receive. But, if you want to create a repeatable process for leveraging the crowd and increase the chances for more refined insights...the key is focus, structure and design of these activities"

James must have liked these different responses as he posted all these and his reactions to our reactions to Crowd Innovation. He says,

"The crowd may be able to provide grist for the mill, but there is a lot of work required to refine that raw material and derive something of value. There are better, faster ways to get there." - My comments Obviously there are multiple ways to do everything - which is better which is not is so context and people dependent that one cant say this one is better in all scenarios - Optimization theory works specific to context of the problem - never generic

But I don’t see sufficient examples to support crowdsourcing for innovation as an effective path for sustainable innovation practice. To meet this metric, we will need to see real evidence that the successes are more than mere chance would produce. Co-creation should definitely be leveraged, but in so doing companies can achieve strong, reliable results by managing their networks for greater relevance and alignment.

My comments " I searched my blog for co-creation and following posts have surfaced - may be interesting to see what are these examples

Obviously - we are through this process of eliminating many of the methods (including open source software development - from where it all started - the kids showed the way - anyway) - reaching to a very narrow definition of crowd sourcing - which will go to dumb mob - creating lot of noise no value -

Well James - it is your choice to reduce it to what ever suits - but one trend is clear - Social computing, web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0 and other new ways of collaborative technologies are making co-creation and crowd sourcing a reality - Innovation is the emergence of new or different from the interactions that are enabled - it is not a mob frenzy that we are talking about - we need to be inclusive!
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