One of my first posts was about “the wisdom of the crowds”. Since I know I don’t know everything, I am a big believer in consulting others and picking their brains for inspiration or advice. Well, I don’t need to tell you that the social web offers endless possibilities on exchanging ideas. It’s called “crowdstorming”. Out of curiosity, I have done some research on how it works in some greater detail.
Crowdstorming is a mix of brainstorming and the use of the wisdom of crowds. It allows engaging many more people than in a real brainstorming session, as you can use a variety of online communities. Just like in a brainstorming meeting, you need a community and a “crowdstorm manager”, who manages and organizes the participants. These communities should have a certain relation to your business or product. Be it through experts that tend to engage on this community or future customers.
If you plan crowdstorming for a new product, you should be very specific and clear on what you want. Don’t talk business jargon that no one understands, but engage people and offer them to be part of a smart crowd, where they can contribute to and gain recognition for their ideas.
According to the authors Shaun Abrahamson, Peter Ryder and Bastian Unterberg, who wrote the book “crowd storm”, there are four reasons why people engage on a crowdstorm:
- It might either be for altruistic reasons, because they want to feel good about it.
- Or they are seeking attention as a form of a reward.
- Money is obviously another way of motivation
- or they just do it for the sheer experience they have on your crowdstorming platform.
Fundamentally, crowdstorming comprises of five stages:
1. Awareness of your crowdstorming needs. Ensure proof of credibility or ask your involved employees to participate as “messengers”. People are bound to want evidence that you are serious about turning their ideas into reality.
2. Consideration and evaluation. Ask the questions you want to get answered, and offer incentives to people for their participation.
3. Participation (engage people by voting for ideas or by competing for prizes). During this stage the crowdstorming manager (or various crowdstorming managers, depending on the size) builds different groups for each idea that materializes out of all individual ideas. This way, you bring your crowd storming into the next phase.
4. Experience (develop and evaluate the results): This is the difficult stage, where you have to pick the ideas you want to follow-up on. Here’s a hint: If ideas have been proven to be good through positive feedback from community members, they are likely to set of in your target market, too.
5. Advocate: Keep your crowdstorm community alive. These people are valuable product advocates for your launch. They are – naturally – keen influencers of the ideas or products they have co-created.
Surely, managing your crowdstorm community is the biggest of all tasks and the most time consuming work. Having said this, it is crucial for your project to structure it well, interact with individuals and master the overall communication well. The better you succeed in that, the more valuable are your gains.
And your experiences with crowdstorms? Have you managed one already or participated? What did you like, what worked, what didn’t? What have been the biggest challenges and what was the outcome?
Want to know more? Read on at:
- Innovation Excellence (Blog)
- “Crowdstrom” by Shaun Abrahamson, Peter Ryder and Bastian Unterberg
- Successful Brainstorming and powerful creativity: What, How and why?? (learnlearnblog.wordpress.com)
- 13 Unusual Brainstorming Methods That Work (halyardconsulting.com)