Crowdsourcing Provides People with Opportunities to Solve Problems

Interview with an IdeaConnection Problem Solver
Sekhar Konjeti was trained in organic chemistry initially and obtained his Ph.D. in organic/medicinal chemistry. He is now a Research Professor in Vanderbilt University working on drug development for cancer. He has gained experience in biology, molecular biology and cell signaling over the years through his research. He has successfully solved 6 Innocentive challenges and two team challenges through IdeaConnection.

photo of Sekhar KonjetiHow did you discover IdeaConnection, and what prompted you to sign on as a Problem Solver?
From an article in Innocentive. Some of the challenges posted on Innocentive seems to be difficult for one person to solve. I learned about IdeaConnection where a group of people solve the problems together as a team. I liked the idea and registered as problem solver.

They are tough challenges. Some challenges take so much of time to write and research because there is not much information available. Some I feel easy due to my work experience.

If I select carefully, my success rate is approximately 25%. Sometimes I just try other problems based on the availability of free time.

Did you have an idea of what the Solution might be when you started on the Challenge?
Yes, for some challenges. Others are developed over time by studying various articles available on internet and scientific literature.

It is very important to have an idea about the solution. Then one can concentrate on that and research about the idea. Without an idea it is difficult to get information on a particular challenge.

Many of the teams I have worked did not realize that they can propose as many solutions as they can. I initiated proposing many solutions for the single challenge. We prioritize our solutions based on the best fit to the challenge. This gives us increased chance of winning the challenge and the seekers have many solutions to decide on. Such solutions have good chance of getting at least partial award.

How did you feel when you found out you had solved a Challenge?
It gives me confidence. The fact is several thousands of solvers have registered and looked into the problem but only very few submitted solution suggesting how difficult the problem is. Winning such challenge is a great pleasure.

What was it like to work with a team of experts in your field, as opposed to trying to solve the Challenge by yourself?
I am very impressed by the most of the team members. Each one has a unique and different solution for the challenge. After a couple of meetings, usually the team narrows it down to a small number of solutions which will be researched individually and, based on the information they find, will be prioritized. Some times I prefer working alone if I think I can completely solve the problem or am unable to participate in the team meetings. Depends on the type of challenge, I decide whether I need team support.

It is nice to see how various team members with different backgrounds come up a solution to particular challenge in a novel way. We usually have fun times during meetings and exchange cultural backgrounds to get know each other well.

Are you interested in working on more Challenges?
Yes, I like to solve scientific problems. Many times we can not follow all the ideas we have due to several reasons. Crowdsourcing provides many people with such opportunity to solve problems other than their work-related ones.

Did you find that having a Facilitator was a help, and if so, how?
Sometimes the Facilitator is very knowledgeable about the challenge and sometimes they just coordinate team meetings and arrange documents and assign responsibilities to each team member.

What do you think about the concept of using Open Innovation to solve Challenges?
It is a wonderful concept which provides an opportunity for one to think outside of one's own employment. It is a good idea as long as it is properly coordinated between the seeker and solver and proper protection is given to the solver’s ideas and solutions.

IdeaConnection provides us a with a unique facility to solve the problems from crowdsourcing, to grouped crowdsourcing, by creating teams.

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