Capitalizing on Internal Crowdsourcing

December 1, 2010 By Aminda

A recent report on internal communications from UK-based Melcrum Publishing shares the findings of a company who asked all 100,000 of their workers ‘what percentage of your intellectual capital do you use’. The results found that 70 percent of staff felt that only 15 to 20 percent of their intellectual capital was being used. 15 to 20 percent! How many other large corporations would find similar results? Probably a lot. Yet in a competitive business environment employers can’t afford to pay their staff 100 percent only to get 15 percent in return.

Fortunately, crowdsourcing practices offer some fresh ways to extract unused intellectual capital from within organizations. Here are some tips on how to build a solid foundation for utilizing this tool effectively.

Create clear goals. In order for crowdsourcing to be seen as a viable problem-solving tool, it must be differentiated from traditional methods such as employee surveys. Surveys have long been billed as a way for employees to let their voice be heard, yet often created either a pile of complaints or empty praise. Crowdsourcing, on the other hand offers opportunities for real decision making and problem solving. For that to be true, leaders must also be committed to achieving goals via this method.

Create structured and organized framework. Invest some time researching the platform that will best suit the company’s organizational structure. Decide what functionality is needed, such as the ability for users to comment, rank and/or vote on submissions. Is there already a space available for virtual teams to meet and work on problems or does this need to be included?

Start simple. The first problem that is crowdsourced to a workforce should be relatively simple and clearly defined. It should be a problem that can engage workers from multiple functional areas. Be sure to provide sufficient information and outline the submission guidelines and structure. Don’t forget to set a deadline for completion.

Communicate. Some employees will be excited, some will be skeptical. There are concerns that need to be addressed. What will be done with the results? If the voting is public, how will it be moderated? Perhaps the inaugural crowdsourced problem could be that of setting the parameters for future endeavors.

What do you think? Any tips to add or stories to share on launching a crowdsourced project?


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