To Crowdsource Or Not To Crowdsource?
I will start by saying that many difficult problems can benefit from crowdsourcing their solutions. Whether or not yours needs this type of handling will depend heavily upon the problem itself.
Let's consider a problem that could likely benefit from drawing on the wisdom of the crowd: identify technologies and engineered solutions that effectively prevent concussions and related head trauma that can be incurred by athletes through on-field collisions. Why is this kind of problem well-suited for crowdsourcing? No truly effective near-term solutions are known to currently exist.
In contrast, many problems are not sufficiently complex that their solutions need to be crowdsourced. Many very satisfactory solutions to the types of problems faced by consumer products companies already exist in forms that can be adapted from other product categories. One often just needs to take the time (and know where) to look and ask the right questions in order to learn what's possible (and what isn't).
For example, consider a slightly disguised version of a problem we solved earlier this year. The client wanted to develop options for a contemporary product dosing system that would evoke memories of a familiar home remedy. We needed to develop some relatively low cost and close-in options that we could share with management and also potentially with consumers.
We solved our challenge by tapping into expertise from the food/beverage industry and also from the pharmaceutical industry. We were able to quickly identify suitable options and learn the cost and timing implications of adapting them to our needs, so that we could act quickly and decisively based on the feedback we received.
A crowd likely could have suggested additional alternative product executions or even a variety of potential development paths for this problem. However, considering the challenge itself, and what we were seeking to accomplish and our timing, our approach was sound. Importantly, crowdsourcing always remained an alternative we could have pursued if it became necessary.
So, when is crowdsourcing unnecessary? The simplest one I can offer is: when it is reasonable to expect that solutions for the problem being considered already exist in some form, and the challenge is more about identifying these and their adaptability for the intended usage (including option cost, complexity and timing) than about having to develop novel options completely from scratch.
Again, crowdsourcing remains an option teams can consider to seek to identify potential solution alternatives. Whether it is appropriate for you largely depends upon the problem you need to solve. If you have questions about yours, consider giving me a call.
"Connecting You With The Right Solutions" BFS Innovations, Inc.