Crowdsourcing ideas has a number of different virtues: from improving the likelihood that you’ll source disruptive ideas to lowering the overall program costs of running an innovation program… but there are some other cultural benefits to a crowdsourced innovation program.
These benefits occur naturally and are otherwise difficult to correct. If you’re empowering an entire organization to become part of the innovation process you can overcome groupthink bias and you can also give an important new tool to introverts.
Overcoming Groupthink. Groupthink is the experience of making decisions as a group that are not the most creative, rational, or optimal for the organization simply because group decisions move towards conformity. This is often because people who are working together value consensus more than the difficulty of finding unforeseen solution. Or perhaps the dissent in a group format is uncomfortable or some groups are highjacked by a particular person’s agenda. Whatever the case – it often leads to underperforming solutions.
When you launch an online brainstorming campaign you can overcome many of these hurdles. For example, ideas aren’t required to show up at a particular space and time and there is no workshop deadline that necessitates an immediate decision at the expense of others. These systems also allow for anonymity so you don’t always default to the highest-paid person’s opinion or the person with the most experience and can instead make space for unlikely suggestions, as well.
Empower Introverts. There’s a growing body of commentary that showcases the benefits of introverts in the workplace and even advocates for placing more introverts in leadership positions: they are excellent listeners, they excel at deep thought, they forge deeper relationships with colleagues, and more. However, introverts often struggle to participate in in-person innovation exercises that require a great deal of social engagement. This infocomic perfectly captures the benefits of avoiding in-person ideation and sharing – especially when it comes to highlighting the powerful suggestions of your introverted co-workers.
When you launch a crowdsourced innovation community, you finally give introverts the time and space to reflect on their own without having to compete for attention or energy with their extroverted coworkers. Everyone arrives at the same level in a digital space.
This was most recently demonstrated by NYU’s crowdsourcing program powered by the Administrative Management Council. They ask all of their administrators to make suggestions and recommendations for the AMC to follow. One of the most surprising side benefits of some truly creative ideas is also that their administrator feel more engaged and that they also hear from voices that they’ve never heard before.
To learn more about NYU’s AMC crowdsourcing initiative, listen to their podcast interview on IdeaScale Nation here!
About the Author
Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.