Crowdsourcing and co-creation elements applied to your project


crowdsourcing

You don’t have to be very innovative nowadays to be confronted with terms like ‘crowdsourcing’, ‘co-creation’, ‘hackathon’, etc. But how can you apply these techniques in practice for your next project? We compare a classic project approach with more innovative ones with elements of crowdsourcing and co-creation, to learn that there are many ways to engage the colleagues and tap into the wisdom of the crowd. 

The classic project approach

The process would probably like:

  • One team gets the assignment.
  • Interview with stakeholders and customers.
  • Make a proposal.
  • Present proposal at decision committee.
  • Rework proposal.

That’s great because:

  • We’re more in control.
  • The accountability is at the level of one team

But watch out for:

  • Thinking of & working out ideas by same people.
  • Limited amount of different solutions.
  • Iteration time can be long.

Crowd sourcing & co-creation

So, what’s crowd sourcing? It’s a collaborative technique of obtaining ideas by distributing tasks to a large group of people.

Yes! But …

  • + we’ll get many ideas.
  • – there will be much crowd noise.
  • – there will be more chaos.

And co-creation is:

  • Through a series of steps, people are invited to contribute, evaluate, and refine ideas and concepts.
  • The call is not put to an open forum or platform but to a smaller group of individuals with specialized skills and talents.
  • Companies can automate and track some processes while still getting creative ideas

Yes! But…

  • + there are more experts involved.
  • + it’s faster.
  • + we’ll get better ideas.
  • – people are not used to work with customers.
  • – the project team gets feeling of handing out responsibility.

Let’s look at some approaches in practice!

Approach 1 – crowd sourcing with 1 assignment

The process:

  • The project lead writes out an assignment.
  • All employees of the department can hand in a proposal.
  • The project lead select the best 3 (different) proposals that can be worked out.
  • The ideators can form a team and get time & resources for the assignment. Optional: one person of the project team is in the idea team.
  • The teams pitch their idea to the project team and steering committee.
  • One solution is selected to be worked out by the project team, the ideators are involved.

That’s great because:

  • More people are involved.
  • The colleagues feel involved.
  • The employees have the possibility to prove themselves.
  • Very different ideas can be harvested.
  • Different proposals are worked out in parallel by people with a fresh view (new people).

But watch out for:

  • The interest and participation rate can be low.
  • The project lead is not fully in control of worked out solutions.
  • Commitment of time & resources is needed from management.
  • The throughput time can be much longer.

Approach 2 – crowd sourcing with hackathon

A hackathon originates from the IT world where it’s an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development collaborate intensively on software projects. The efforts of all are focussed on a short time deliverable of tangible software. The principle can be applied for non-IT projects too.

The process:

  • We call for colleagues who want to think along.
  • We reserve an offsite location for 1 or 2 days.
  • The participants are divided into teams.
  • The project lead gives the context and the assignment.
  • The teams work out the assignment and during the day they can ask questions and receive help.
  • The ideas are pitched in front of a jury composed out of management and customers.
  • One solution is selected and will further be worked out by the project team.

That’s great because: (some repeated from the previous approach)

  • More people are involved.
  • The colleagues feel involved.
  • The employees have the possibility to prove themselves.
  • Very different ideas can be harvested.
  • Different proposals are worked out in parallel with a fresh view (new people).
  • Very concentrated effort in 1 or 2 days, which means a very short throughput time.
  • The project lead and management can steer the solutions during the day. (more in control)

But watch out for:

  • The interest and participation rate can be low.
  • Commitment of time & resources is needed from management.
  • Management participation is needed.
  • Additional costs for venue and food & drinks.

Approach 3 – crowd sourcing with multiple assignments

This approach is used in the marketing sector for coming to creative solutions. Eg. when asked for working out a campaign for a laundry softener, one team gets the actual assignment, the other team gets the assignment to sell really nice smelling and soft towels.

The process:

  • We call for employees who want to think along.
  • The project lead writes out multiple assignments and changes the description or terms per assignment. The teams don’t know this.
  • The participants form a team and get time & resources for the assignment. Optional: one person of the project team is in the idea team.
  • The teams pitch their idea to the project team and steering committee.
  • One solution is selected to be worked out by the project team, the ideators are involved.

That’s great because:

  • More people are involved.
  • The colleagues feel involved.
  • The employees have the possibility to prove themselves.
  • We are sure that the same challenge is looked at from different angles.
  • Different proposals are worked out in parallel with a fresh view (new people).

But watch out for:

  • Interest and participation rate can be low.
  • The PL is not fully in control of worked out solutions.
  • Commitment of time & resources is needed from management.
  • Experimental approach.

The leap to co-creation

By adding some co-creation elements you can involve other people to think along. A non-exclusive list of examples:

  • Internal customers (eg. leaders from other departments and business lines)
  • External partners
  • External experts
  • External community

This involvement can be integrated in:

  • Ideation & working out the ideas.
  • Evaluation, giving feedback.
  • Jury.

Additional reading

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