Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Innovation" and the Joys of Crowdsourcing

Innovation. It has been responsible for the dawn – and death – of many organizations. Innovation is all around us. The mountain bike. Cloud computing. Wikipedia. The question is: where does innovation truly originate? From organizations? Or from the masses? In "Charles Leadbeater on Innovation", a deceptively casual TED Talk, Leadbeater weaves a tight argument that innovation isn’t just for professionals anymore. Passionate amateurs, using new tools, are creating products and paradigms that companies can’t. To watch Leaderbeater's thought-provoking discussion about the true source of innovation and the conflict between traditional organizations and open-source platforms, click the videos below.

Charles Leadbeater on Innovation, Part 1

Charles Leadbeater on Innovation, Part 2

Now, something very specific in this TED Talk got me thinking. At one point in his speech, Leadbeater points out that if companies could only tap into the tiny percentage of their consumers - the Passionate Amateurs who care about their brand and want their ideas to be solicited - that company's productivity will skyrocket.

For example, if you've got 10 million consumers, and 1 percent of them are Passionate Amateurs, and you can find a way to collaborate with them - you've just added 10,000 motivated employees to your workforce. And guess what: they're willing to work for free. That is the true joy of crowdsourcing: soliciting your consumer's creativity for free. The only cost to a company would be setting up a platform that would allow their consumers to collaborate and share their innovative ideas.

Then it struck me: many already have. No matter what the product or the brand, anyone can set up a platform that will allow their passionate consumers to collaborate with the organization to get to better products, better ideas, and ultimately, a better customer experience. Below are several examples of big brands that are truly taking in the joys of crowdsourcing.

Brands That Solicit Consumer Product Ideas

Brands That Collaborate with Consumers Creatively

Brands That Let Consumers Create Their Own Products

Take a moment to think about how your brand can push for innovation by taking advantage of the passionate amateurs that are out there, just waiting for a collaborative platform that will allow them to contribute their creative talent and ideas... for free.

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