Category Archives: Intelligencia

Serving citizens best by collaborating with them

by Craig Thomler

Government runs on rules. Policies, processes and procedures designed to address every contingency and plan for every possible risk in order to provide equity, stability and certainty.

However, as experience has shown time and time again, we cannot predict the future.

While we continually attempt to plan ahead, largely these plans are based on extrapolating past trends and experiences.

This has served us well in times of relatively stable and slow-changing societies and provides enormous capability to mobilise and focus resources towards a few large and separate goals.

However it doesn’t work as effectively during rapidly changing conditions where there are a myriad of interlocking issues. The approach can also neglect large and important changes, which are often discontinuous and almost totally unpredictable.

History is littered with enormous societal, economic and cultural shifts brought on by unpredictable innovations; gunpowder, the printing press, steam-power, radio, television and, most recently, the internet.

Each of these – and other – innovations profoundly changed how societies operated, destroying industries and creating a stream of new inventions, professions and both political and cultural challenges in their wake.

In hindsight we can often see very clearly how these changes unfolded and they can appear historically as an evolutionary process. However when living just before or during these enormous shifts it is virtually impossible for most individuals or organisations to predict outcomes ten, five, two or even a single year ahead.

I believe we are living in this type of time right now. The invention of the internet, progress in nano and bio technologies and in alternative – hopefully sustainable – sources of energy is in the process of increasingly rapidly reshaping our world. At the same time we are facing the consequences of previous disruptive innovations – most notably climate change, fuelled by enormous levels of fossil fuel use over two hundred years and population growth, fuelled by improvements in food technology and medicine.

This becomes a time of enormous challenge for governments. How do we extrapolate trends, develop policies, acknowledge and address risks which didn’t exist a few years ago?

How do we continue to serve the public appropriately when the time required to plan, develop and implement national infrastructure is greater than the effective lifespan of that infrastructure?

How do we let go of faltering systems to embrace new ways of developing and implementing policy without losing continuity of governance?

And how long can we continue to govern incrementally when living in an exponential world?

We’re in a place where there are many more questions than answers. Issues are ever more complex and multi-faceted and can no longer be in silos. Our organisations need to be more flexible and adaptive in response to an increasingly assertive community who often have better tools and information than the government departments servicing them.

Fortunately the disruptive technologies we are developing also allow us to approach many of these challenges collectively on a national and international scale.

We have the means to mobilise the brainpower of a nation – or many nations – using the internet and simple crowdsourcing tools.

We’ve already seen communities emerge online where companies ask their insolvable questions publicly, allowing scientists, academics and the general public to discuss and provide suggestions.

We’ve also seen governments willing to ask questions of their constituents, rather than rely on traditional stakeholders, academics and bureaucrats to have all the answers.

I hope over the coming years we see Australian governments embrace serendipity rather than attempt unsuccessfully to chain it. I hope we see bureaucrats and citizens working collaboratively to address major issues, working in adaptive and flexible configurations rather than rigid silos, stepping beyond ‘consultation’ towards participatory policy development and evolution.

This will require courage on the part of elected officials and senior public servants alike. It will require different types of leadership and thinking, better communications and a broader focus on connecting people over managing fixed resources.

Can we achieve this step from where we are today?

I’m optimistic that we can, but it will take significant work and pain to achieve.

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10 Ways Small Businesses Can Harness Big Crowds

Sourced with compliments from: http://cs.sbtv.com/Post/?id=2512

Would your small business benefit from reducing costs, improving product and/or service quality, more effectively competing with bigger companies, innovating more, enhancing your expertise, and better managing your own capacity and the capacity of your small team? You bet!

In this post, I discuss 10 ways that your small business can leverage crowdsourcing. I’ll explain each suggestion and will recommend ways that you could take advantage of the service for your small business. I’ll include examples for each suggestion to show how a small businesses can leverage each service.

First – a short background. For the past 20+ years, many companies have outsourced certain types of work – such as product design, manufacturing, or customer service – to a third-party. Often, the third-party was located overseas (India, for example). Historically, outsourcing was the done mostly by larger companies. Although outsourcing continues to be a popular option for companies in many different industries, the diminishing savings from outsourcing, coupled with some of the disadvantages (quality, communication issues, turnover, etc.) have made outsourcing a less attractive option.

Over the past 6-7 years, some companies have found new, more creative ways to leverage others – through crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing involves taking a task which is traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to a large group of people – rather than to a specific third party (like one would do when outsourcing). Some large companies have been leveraging crowdsourcing for years (see Innocentive below).

How can your small business leverage crowdsourcing? Here are 10 suggestions:

1. uTest.

What it is: uTest is the world’s largest marketplace for software testing services. A community of 20,000+ quality assurance professionals from around the world help software companies test their web, mobile, gaming and desktop applications.

How You Can Leverage uTest: If your company develops software, you can leverage uTest to provide functional, usability, load and performance testing. Companies that develop software know that testing is time consuming and tedious. And while larger companies often have quality assurance staff – or entire departments focused on testing – small businesses must rely on their own employees or third parties to thoroughly test their software products. By crowdsourcing software testing, you can both control and reduce your costs, and make sure that your products are thoroughly tested before they are released, without putting tremendous strain on your small development team. You pay only for the services you need/use.

2. Innocentive.

What it is: InnoCentive is an online marketplace where organizations in need of innovation can leverage a global network of over 160,000 people to solve technical and business problems.

How You Can Leverage Innocentive: If your company runs into a business or research and development problem, Innocentive could be a great alternative to help you overcome that problem. You set the challenge reward (these are typically in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars). While the cost to post a problem to Innocentive and attract a robust community of people to help you is not small (you set your own reward amount), many small businesses developing complex chemical or electronic products incur much higher costs when working with third-party contractors. And while Innocentive has traditionally been a great option for large corporations – it is equally attractive to smaller companies that must find ways to overcome complex and expensive problems that are delaying product launches.

3. Amazon Mechanical Turk.

What it is: Mechanical turk is a marketplace for getting various tasks performed by distributed groups of people. Tasks posted to Mechanical Turk are typically broken down into small components and multiple workers typically work on different components of each task.

How You Can Leverage Mechanical Turk: There are unlimited ways that you could leverage Mechanical Turk. For example, you can post tasks to have people write short blog posts for your small business blog or newsletter. You can have people create lists for you if you are developing a website focused on sports statistics or other types of statistics. You can have workers on Mechanical Turk transcribe audio and/or video files for you. (Tip: for transcription, you could also use a service like CastingWords, which uses Mechanical Turk to manage the process for you). You can have workers on Mechanical Turk answer surveys about a product or service (your own or a competitor’s). You can have workers on Mechanical Turk obtain data from multiple websites on a regular basis and provide it to you in a specific format. Think about any task(s) in your business that require large groups of people and you’ll come up with simple, low-cost (you set your own price) and effective ways to leverage Mechanical Turk for your business.

4. Inkling.

What it is: Inkling runs prediction marketplaces. These marketplaces could provide, among other things, early risk warnings about products and services (or about interruptions to your supply chain, for example), could help quantify the probability that an event will occur, and can predict how your business will perform.

How You Can Leverage Inkling: Inkling at first look appears more appropriate for larger companies – and the case studies posted on Inkling’s site promote use by large companies. However, there are many ways that small businesses can leverage Inkling. For example, if your company is developing a new product, you can use an Inkling marketplace to predict whether your product (or several variations of your product) will be successful in the marketplace. Given the often high costs of marketing and advertising, being able to predict which variation of a product is likely to be most successful is an incredible advantage to blindly launching a new product (or service).

5. Get Satisfaction.

What it is: Get Satisfaction allows companies to support customers, exchange ideas and receive feedback about products and services.

How You Can Leverage Get Satisfaction: Get Satisfaction has numerous price points, ranging from FREE to $899 per month. It’s a good alternative for small businesses that have popular products and active communities, but small teams. Many small businesses use Get Satisfaction as their primary channel for customer support.  For example, if you’re marketing a popular free product, you may have a very active and devoted community, but little money to provide customer support. Similarly, if you’re a startup, you’re most likely spending your money on development and not spending enough on providing customer support. Get Satisfaction helps you to leverage your community to help you deliver customer support to your users and lets your team focus on building and improving your core product or service.

6. Twitter/Facebook

What it is: Twitter is a social network. Users on Twitter communicate by sending text-based messaged of up to 140 characters in length. The messages are public (there is a private message option) and other people can subscribe to receive all your messages or find your messages by searching or visiting your page on Twitter. In turn, you can subscribe to other people’s messages. This process – “following” – allows people and companies to build communities of “followers” on Twitter (some of these communities are small – numbering in the single digits, but some communities are in the thousands, tens of thousands, and even millions of people). Facebook is also a social network. In addition to text based messages, Facebook allows you to upload photos, videos, and interact with other people who can become your “friend” on Facebook. Like on Twitter, your friends on Facebook can see your public messages and you can see the public messages posted by your friends. Companies can set up “fan” pages on Facebook where companies can interact with their customers and fans.

How You Can Leverage Twitter and Facebook: You can use your communities on Twitter and Facebook to help you generate ideas, to give you feedback about ideas, to help you with research questions, and in many other ways. For example, if you’re a freelance journalist or a copywriting agency, you could ask your communities for ideas about stories. Or if you’re a manufacturer of electronic products, you can ask your communities for ideas to improve your products. If your small company makes a popular software product, you could ask your communities for feedback about your latest public beta release. If you have a gift basket business, you can ask for feedback on your latest basket designs on several newsletter templates you’re considering. The possibilities are unlimited.

7. Mahalo Answers

What it is: Mahalo Answers is a social community where anyone can ask questions about anything. Members provide answers to the questions and in some cases, earn “tips” for the best answers.

How You Can Leverage Mahalo: Small businesses that do not have large communities on Twitter or Facebook must find ways to get help from existing communities. Even if you have existing communities, it sometimes helps to seek opinions outside your communities. Let’s say you have a small business on Etsy, selling various kinds of crafts. How should you effectively and inexpensively market your Etsy business? You can ask for advice on Mahalo. What if you’re building a voice mail application and doing market research to find out how many voice mails are left in the U.S. every month? You can spend time looking for the answer on Google or Bing – or you can ask for help on Mahalo.

8. Start a needed service

What it is: Sometimes, you’ll have an idea for new ways to leverage crowds and will see an opportunity to create a service that doesn’t already exist. For example, HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is a very successful free service founded by Peter Shankman – designed to help journalists request expert interview sources for stories. Peter started the service because he was constantly receiving requests for help from his journalist friends and he came up with a way to leverage crowds to answer those requests directly.

How You Can Leverage: Each company described in this article found a creative way to deliver a product service to others. Just like Peter Shankman, think about problems facing your business – or your industry – and assess whether you can find smart ways to solve those problems. As you can see from the many examples in this article, there are unlimited creative ways to crowdsource solutions to common (and uncommon) problems. The key to building a relevant business is to find an opportunity  – an industry need that is being unmet – and develop a solution that meets that need. In fact, you can use some of these other services, such as Twitter, Facebook, or Mahalo Answers, to identify opportunities and even explore possible solutions.

9. Create your own “crowd”

What it is: I’ve listed online services, but you shouldn’t forget the communities we’ve built offline. Those communities include your existing customers, friends and families, your co-workers, people you meet at seminars and conferences, or even random people you meet in shopping malls or at the Starbucks.

How You Can Leverage offline crowds: You should be using any and all relevant “tools” available to you. While online tools are often easily accessible and low cost, you might find that your offline communities can provide more insight. For example, you can ask your friends and families (or co-workers) for feedback and suggestions about a new product or service you’re considering offering. If you’re considering increasing your hourly rates for a service, you can ask for feedback about what people are currently paying and how they’d feel about different rate levels. If you’re a small accounting firm, you might ask for feedback and suggestions about a new brochure you’d like to send to potential clients. If you’re a real estate agent, you could ask for feedback about print advertising you’re considering running in the local newspaper. Once again – the possibilities of how you leverage your own crowd are unlimited.

10. crowdSPRING

What it is: And of course, thousands of small businesses around the world have leveraged our own community on crowdSPRING. crowdSPRING is a community of over 44,000 graphic, web and industrial designers – from over 170 countries around the world. Our community has helped thousands of small businesses from over 50 countries with logo, business card, website and many other custom graphic design needs. Unlike traditional marketplaces, a buyer on crowdSPRING posts their project, names their own price and deadline, and then selects from at least 25 designs to their specifications, from multiple designers (or they get their money back).

How You Can Leverage: You can use crowdSPRING in many different ways – here are 99 suggestions for how you can crowdsource on crowdSPRING (most of these have been posted as projects on crowdSPRING by other businesses). Small businesses have asked crowdSPRING designers to design logos, websites, blogs and marketing materials for them. Other businesses have asked crowdSPRING’s industrial designers to create actual products (mobile phones, devices, watches, utensils) and product packaging (for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, for consumer goods). The possibilities are unlimited.

Corporate Social Responsibility + Social Media = Promise of Transformation

Sourced with compliments from

http://www.csrwire.com/csrlive/commentary_detail/1257-Corporate-Social-Responsibility-Social-Media-Promise-of-Transformation

“This is a world of transparency, openness, two-way dialogue with your constituents… I just think that’s part of the game today.” So said GE CEO Jeff Immelt in response to a question I posed to him, on how his company uses web 2.0 tools to engage with its stakeholders on sustainability issues, last week at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco (see it here – scroll to 23:15). “If you’re not willing to be completely transparent on just about everything you do, and if you can’t tolerate life in a world where you’re sharing information openly and getting input from lots of different people, where they have the ability to critique, criticize, have inputs… you better find a new profession,” he said.

I was there gathering material for a research fellowship I’m conducting with Marcy Murninghan and Bob Massie on web 2.0 and corporate accountability for the Harvard-Kennedy Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, with the Summit sandwiched between the JustMeans Social Media for Sustainability and the Business for Social Responsibility conferences. The week’s takeaways: web 2.0 holds great promise to transform the way companies engage with stakeholders, but we are still way early in the innovation curve on using web 2.0 to advance corporate sustainability and accountability!

That said, web 2.0 has already radically transformed conference power dynamics: gone is the one-way transmission of information from the stage that privileges presenters; now, thanks to Twitter and hashtags, the audience voices itself in a meta-dialogue transpiring in real-time during presentations. For example, we who followed the #justmeans hashtag throughout that conference participated in creating a steady stream of comments, criticisms, questions – and “distillations” that I characterized as a “subtle art,” sometimes capturing points better than they’re presented. Kudos to Natural Logic CEO Gil Friend for best distillation — of InnoCentive CEO Dwayne Spradlin: “Crowdsourcing vs outsourcing requires profound organizational change.”

Harnessing the power of crowdsourcing, “Getting the Message Out” panel moderator Chad Boettcher of Weber Shandwick projected the conference Twitter feed on the screen to display audience questions for Treehugger Founder Graham Hill, TriplePundit Co-Publisher Ryan Mickle, and JustMeans Managing Director Deb Berman. “I was really happy with this use of distributive technology,” said CSRwire Chair Joe Sibilia, who I ran into at both the JustMeans and BSR conferences.

Joe and I shared our concern about web 2.0 in the CSR space focusing exclusively on money-making opportunities, such as brand enhancement, to the distraction of more promising transformative opportunities, such as leveraging its connective power for movement-building. We agreed that the CSR-social media connection needs to balance its business case with its change agency.

Measuring financial or social return on investment remains elusive, however. In the “How to Calculate the ROI of Social Media” panel, “the panelists could not give one compelling business reason for the return on investment in using social networking tools,” said Joe. “Many of my colleagues are trying to measure the amount of time and effort to expend on this new technology, and that’s why we went. We left the meeting with an empty feeling about the content, with this question unanswered…”

The Power of the Human Jumbotron: A Lesson In Crowdsourcing

Sourced with compliments from http://sparxoo.com/2009/10/28/the-power-of-the-human-jumbotron-a-lesson-in-crowdsourcing/

When has the crowd been more exciting than the game? No, it’s not the wave, nor is it the “war paint” covering bare-chested men. It’s crowdsourcing: when everyone works collectively towards a single objective. Below there is a video of a soccer game where the power of the crowd created more compelling entertainment than the game itself:

Crowdsourcing has never been more apparent and pervasive than in the online world. Wikipedia is often the most cited example of crowdsourcing–as it has met extreme success since its inception in 2001. It has tapped into the collective knowledge of the world to create a comprehensive and awe-inspiring assortment of content.

To understand how more brands can incorporate crowdsourcing into their business model consider the following key characteristics that lead to successful crowdsourcing initiatives:

Set an objective — Before throwing in tons of money and time in to your project, what are you trying to create; who is going to get you there; and who is going to benefit? In Wikipedia’s case: create an online encyclopedia; those experts specialized in specific areas of study; all those with web access seeking more information knowledge in one site.

Rally the troops — When you tell 100 people you want to create a human jumbotron, they can get excited about it because 1) it’s unique and 2) it’s tangible. With two words, you can inspire and lay out a clearly defined objective.

Plan — A human jumbotron does not get up and running overnight. It takes time, training and planning to make a vision a reality. Consider Wikipedia, they have a solid foundation for which individuals can build an rich resource for information.

Work as a team — The human jumbotron exemplifies how no one person is of greater value than another. It is through the collective efforts of everyone that the human jumbotron was successful. If even one person was of greater value, it would dissolve the final outcome.

Have a pay-off — Sellaband is an example of a crowdsourcing website that has a financial pay-off for participants. Fans give money to their favorite bands so they can cut a record. Once the record is released, fans can even share a portion of the profits if the album is successful.

Leveraging the power of the crowds, even if it’s only to fact-check or spark a discussion on your blog, can be invaluable for your brand. Allowing users to participate in something greater than themselves is tremendously rewarding and the nature of the web as a connector and facilitator has made collaboration and crowdsourcing more possible than ever before.

Crowdsourcing – A Jury?

Sourced with compliments from http://brand-e.biz/crowdsourcing-the-jury-is-in_4450.html

Best jury. This crowdsourcing bug really is spreading. Those folk behind the International ANDY Awards have launched a website, ElectTheJury.com, where visitors can select just who they want to see on the ANDY advertising jury from a long, long list of nominees (as well as add even more worthies, if they wish).
“The reality is, no one knows exactly what the future of our business will look like. We only know it will be discovered and shaped by the best people working in these widely disparate disciplines today – but working together,” the organizers say. “That’s what we want the ANDY Jury in 2010 to represent a coming together of the best of the best from around the world in storytelling, big ideas, creative technology and experience design.”
So in the spirit of change, we’ve decided to select a jury in a completely new way- by asking the industry to decide. By creating the first globally crowd-sourced group of judges, we hope to assemble the first awards show jury that truly represents where we are headed as an industry.
“For this to work, we need you and everyone you know to participate. To nominate others who we may have missed. And to vote for a 2010 ANDY jury you can truly believe in. Hopefully a jury that extends beyond the usual suspects and embraces some of the pioneers of emerging disciplines, as well as some stars from industries we must all learn to collaborate with.”
“We felt that a truer evaluation of the work would be to pull people in with different perspectives from outside the advertising business,” says Michael Lebowitz, CEO of US digital agency Big Spaceship, and ANDY Awards co-chair. “Our hope is that people will see this as an opportunity and feel compelled to participate.”
“Communications platforms have gotten so complex and advertising is going through unprecedented change because of it,” says co-chair Ty Montague, chief creative officer of JWT North America. “But one of the things that hasn’t changed is the way that awards shows work. Our mission is to get more people from different disciplines actively involved in figuring out who decides what the best work in 2010 is.”

The Myth Of Crowdsourcing… Or Misunderstanding Crowdsourcing?

Sourced with compliments from:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090930/0126206365.shtml

A bunch of folks have sent in this silly opinion piece at Forbes, claiming that crowdsourcing is a myth. The reasoning? Because there are individuals in the crowd. Except… um… did anyone say anything different? Of course there are individuals, and the point of crowdsourcing isn’t that everyone in the crowd is equal, but that they each get to contribute their own special talents, and something better comes out of it. Every example that the guy dismisses as not crowdsourcing — Wikipedia, the Netflix prize, open source developing, etc. — actually does involve crowdsourcing. The problem is that this guy defines crowdsourcing in his own way — that if any individual contributes a greater amount, there’s no more crowd. Say what? The fact that a few determined individuals help craft a specific Wikipedia page, doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s the overall crowd that made Wikipedia so useful. It’s many of those determined individuals together who made the entire Wikipedia so useful. He then goes on to mock the Netflix prize… even though it disproves his entire thesis:

The Netflix contest is a prime example of individual virtuosity at work. One team was clearly in the lead and then a consortium of teams that had worse performance joined together and combined their innovations to create an algorithm that won the contest. For most of the contest, individuals toiled to figure out a solution. At the end, a consortium was formed. None of the invention happened through a crowd.

Crowdsourced Advertising

Sourced with compliments from http://www.psfk.com/2009/10/the-worlds-first-crowdsourced-ad-agency.html

Victors & Spoils launched today, touting itself as the “world’s first creative (ad) agency built on crowdsourcing principles.”  The agency’s crowdsourced approach stems from identifying the need for companies, brands and agencies to be radically transparent, to address the consumer’s demand to be more involved and from a growing cost consciousness regarding clients’ budgets.  Recognizing that the crowdsourcing paradigm can feel a bit unruly for most clients, Victors & Spoils will face the daunting challenge of identifying an array of possible crowdsourced solutions and keeping them on-strategy for their clients.

With respect to its creative strategy:

“At the core of Victors & Spoils is our creative department. It’s not a typical creative department made up of art directors and copywriters but one in which everyone from art directors and copywriters to strategists and producers come together to solve a brand’s strategic problems. Our creative department is a global digital community where anyone who wants to participate can. People will not only be rewarded by the solutions they develop both individually and as a group but also for participating in the community, itself, and helping others develop their skills and talent. In an effort to guide this participation, members of the creative department will earn a reputation ranking that will help determine a share of the revenue from each project.”

Anibal Casso at Accidental Thinking was able to speak with John Winsor, one of the brains behind this ingenious venture and current Chief Executive Officer, to better understand their reasons for being and vision to launch the agency:

AC: A lot has been said both about crowdsourcing lately but I believe you guys are the first ones with the courage and the vision to actually do something serious about. Considering the current economic landscape, why now?

JW: It felt like the right time. there’s been a lot of momentum building from great pioneers, Crosdspring, Innocentive, BBH-Labs and CP+B. It’s time to take the next step in the evolution.

AC: With the rise of ideas built collaboratively, do you guys envision a future where the traditional model is death?

JW: All kinds of new models will emerge that will creatively solve different problems for different clients. You’ll see a very dense landscape of everything from hybrid traditional models to complete virtual ones.

It will be interesting to see how Victor & Spoils’ creative democracy plays out in actuality, vs. theory – and how its first clients and brand work perform.