localgov.co.uk: Crowdsourcing for ideas

Eva PoureshaghBlog

Generating new ideas is challenging business, particularly for large organisations with well established ways of doing things. But it doesn’t have to be. The advantage of being a large organisation — whether a local authority or a company — is you have a potential resource that frequently goes unacknowledged as a source of ideas: the workforce.

An organisation’s employees, thanks to their location on the frontline, are a potential goldmine of innovative ideas. The employer just needs to know how to extract this information and put it to good use. This is where crowdsourcing comes in, an idea that has come into its own in the digital age.

If you’re unsure what it is, imagine the following: You’re trying to think of somewhere new to go for dinner. What do you do? You visit Facebook or Twitter to ask your friends and followers, or you google Trip Adviser to get culinary hints from strangers. This is crowdsourcing. You are accessing what Jeff Howe, the writer who coined the term in the pages of tech magazine Wired, called ‘the latent talent of the crowd.’

Organisations, as well as individuals, can use this to great effect, and councils in particular can benefit. Local authorities have a lot of ‘latent talent’ and, in a time of increasing demand and declining resources, they certainly have a need for new ideas. Crowdsourcing is not the answer to this — but it could help find out what is.

‘Crowdsourcing has come to be a way that organisations of all types and sizes can use their networks to help solve a specific problem,’ explains Rosemarie Diegnan, the chief strategy and product officer at the crowdsourcing company Wazoku. These networks, she explains, may be internal to the organisation, i.e. the employees, or external (customers, the wider public etc.).

This is a very different way of operating. ‘Traditionally, organisations have done things like rely on some subset of the internal organisation to come up with all the ideas,’ continues Ms Diegnan. ‘Whether it be senior management or whether it be a specific function within the organisation, they rely on a small number of people who may not have the full picture to come up with the ideas.’

…to read the full article, visit localgov.co.uk

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