Crowdsource as a way to create a community
Filed under: community At work one of our teams is using a community space in order to use a forum to crowdsource ideas for continuous improvement. We got 400 posts in 2 weeks. Our forum is basic so we don’t have the features that come with crowdsource designed tools like IdeaJam, Brightidea (used by Cisco), Salesforce have their own site, IdeaScale, UserVoice, Suggestion Box, CrowdSound (widget), Fevote I’ve also noticed some tools if you want people to crowdsource around a question you have proposed, such as Dotmocracy, Zapproved, Kindling, CrowdSpring, Kluster, BigCarrot, Pligg, Feedback2.0, CollabandRate Anyhow, whether it’s crowdsourcing of the top-down stimulation variety or gathering ideas in general, it’s about utilising people on ground zero in sharing stuff that goes way beyond what we know of them…it’s amazing how much more you learn about people when you ask. It just makes sense, as management often don’t know “what is” practiced compared to “what is meant” to be practiced. There is an indirect value in all the stuff that happened along the way; I learnt so much, I met new people (for future communities and collaboration), and all these people feel valued and recognised… watch out, the mailroom guy may have your next strategic innovation. So we have a heartbeat, and we also know at least a handful of these ideas have great value and will be implemented, and perhaps the overall feel could lead to some strategic influence or new objectives. This is what Dave Snowden calls “distributed cognition”, where the workers can contribute to decision making. Once again this will drive more participation as participating works; people feel recognised and heard (especially if it leads to results). There is also the personal productivity benefit when you can make a difference so your own job can be more smooth and productive. A participation model is definitely a career advancement tool, I hadn’t thought of it from a HR/talent perspective all that much until now…but I have mentioned that you can brand yourself and become known as a subject matter expert…create your own opportunities. Rather than use a prescribed approach of creating some topic forums upfront, we instead had just one forum. Our other option was having some topic forums and a miscellaneous forum, but we found one forum was easy. And you want this to be as easy as possible at the start, the less choices the better. All this is related to a past post on broad buckets as a fertile ground.
Next, is to group these posts into various forums so we have spaces to keep talking about various topics. I like this way of creating forums, ie. the bottom-up content is driving the forums to be created, rather than the prescriptive approach…this is great as now we will have forums on topics people will want to talk about…who knows these may one day become their own community. This process of categorising these forums would have been easier if our forum had a tagging feature (similar to Clearspace). Further to this, tag clouds are great for a glance at what topics are most prevalent on people’s minds, and comparing them to topics of a lesser magnification. Another good thing about our crowdsourcing exercise, is that we noticed a core bunch of people posting ideas and also replying to others…this showed their passion, socialness, and ingenuity. We also noticed some people refering others to past posts that already covered a topic that had just been posted…this is the activity of a potential facilitator. Anyway, once we get the forums sorted out, we will workshop with the contributors to see if they would like to keep going and turn the initial one off activity into a more concrete community. We know the crowdsourcing was a great success, and it showed the potential for a community/s, so next we want to see, besides responding to top-down stimulation, whether we can turn it into a community where the members selforganise bottom-up around topics.
An article on the merits of engaging communities to Crowdsource ideas, brainstorm and develop ideas.
A good read on how crowdsourcing drives participation within communities and let people feel recognized and heard.