Are crowdsourced ideas from engaged customers worthless?

Are crowdsourced ideas from engaged customers worthless?

From Kirsten Osolind (@reinventioninc):

Thinking of running an Open Innovation Contest? Think Again. Interesting Read from MIT’s Office of Corporate Relations suggesting that innovation can only come from within, that crowdsourced ideas from engaged customers are basically worthless.

My take:

I think the nature of how we innovate changes. When Henry Ford was alive, the internet didn’t exist. Same thing with the Wright Bros. I think today, where collaboration is almost a given, we’re still figuring out how to open up. The barriers to “being daring” are lower now, but that also means that less daring ideas are on the table. With that said, I personally side with working in smaller groups and strategically tapping outsiders, as opposed to just “opening the gates” to whatever. The enemy is groupthink, it is always waiting to show its head. Lots of opinions are cancelled out by a person’s or small group’s drive to pursue what they clearly think should be done.

Also, it is expected that customers will replace R&D as the main source of new ideas. So, we will see more companies co-creating with customers. That is a given. This is still unexplored territory. The game is still to be defined…

Does innovation only come from within? What do you think?

  • re:invention, inc.

    Apologies for our delay in responding to your blog post. Yes. We, too, believe that crowdsourcing has merit. Randall S. Wright, author of the article and senior liaison officer with MIT’s Office of Corporate Relations, seems to misunderstand the point of crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing works IF it’s done right, if certain conditions are met, if the audience is engaged, if there is a two-way relationship where you share before asking, if there’s a critical mass of well-intentioned people who share broadly compatible goals, if the crowd feels rewarded, if media is involved….

    New social intelligence, social media, and customer crowdsourcing/crowdsolving collaboration tools and technologies can help companies mine hidden assets, find opportunities, and discover unmet market needs. Many of these technologies can also facilitate rapid knowledge transfer between internal teams instead of endless email conversations and repeatedly forwarding attachments. Online knowledge sharing, intelligence alerts, and collaboration platforms can be used to create a central hub for people, conversations, resources. Consolidating organizational knowledge to a single location where it can be easily accessed, read, and understood can improve organizational efficiency and team culture building.

    It seems to us that Randall Wright is a bit behind the times — an esteemed Dinosaur who believes that innovation is the domain of a select few C-level executives behind a company’s old school iron curtain.