Benefits of crowdsourcing: Common Misconceptions
In my previous post, I gave a working definition of crowdsourcing and described two major crowdsourcing approaches: adding capacity and accessing expertise.
I also argued that although numerous organizations – including corporations, governmental agencies, and nonprofits – have used crowdsourcing to solve complex business problems, its wider adoption in the marketplace has been relatively slow.
Some of the reasons for the slow adoption of crowdsourcing are rooted in the very nature of the method. There is widespread uncertainty regarding which business problems crowdsourcing can and cannot solve. Besides, many organizations – especially those new to the approach – have trouble “matching” their specific problems to the crowdsourcing platform best suited for solving them. I’ll address these issues in future posts.
This infographic from ‘The Horizons Tracker’ offers an overview of what crowdsourcing activities are best suited to particular business and government needs. However, many companies still struggle to match crowdsourcing to their specific requirements.
Adopting crowdsourcing also implies change – most importantly, change in the organizational culture – and the change management process is never easy. In the following, I’ll cover this aspect of adopting crowdsourcing, as well highlight the common misconceptions you need to be aware of when dealing with this effective method.
Experts vs. Crowds – Which are More Reliable?
There are a few cultural factors slowing down the adoption of crowdsourcing as a practical problem-solving method. One of them is the lack of trust in the intellectual power of the crowd and its ability to tackle complex problems. Everyone would seem to agree that the proverbial “wisdom of crowds” can be applied to a ‘simple’ task – such as reporting potholes in the City of Boston, or creating a corporate logo. However, when it comes to answering a question that requires specialized knowledge, the benefits of crowdsourcing are called into question. Thus, many organizations prefer to turn to experts.
The general reluctancy to replace experts with a crowd naturally sits well with the experts themselves. The latter are often scornful of the idea that someone with no immediate experience in their field could solve a problem that they couldn’t. This sentiment was eloquently expressed in a 2010 Visions Magazine article by James A. Euchner:
One author went as far as calling crowds stupid, citing Brexit as a clear example of crowds’ “stupidity.”
The fundamental flaw in the notion that people participating in crowdsourcing campaigns are just a bunch of “amateurs” lies in the fact that, in real life, crowds are composed of experts. They might not be experts working for your company, or in your industry, or in your country – or be proficient in your area of expertise. But they’re experts, nonetheless. Moreover, academic research shows that a contributor’s likelihood of solving a problem increases according to the …read more
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