Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Innovators, innovation teams and the innovation process 11 – acquiring innovation through crowdsourcing as a special case 1

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on June 28, 2013

This is my eleventh installment in a series on innovators and the process of innovation (see HR and Personnel, postings 154 and following for Parts 1-10.) I have been writing about acquisition of outside-sourced innovation over the course of the last four installments to this series (see Part 7, Part 8, Part 9 and Part 10), with a focus in them on innovation acquisition from outside organizations or businesses. I turn here to consider the more wide-open outside acquisition of innovation and insight from the crowd and from the marketplace, and crowdsourcing.

I have written repeatedly about crowdsourcing in this blog and cite here, by way of example:

• The series: Crowd Sourcing, Open Innovation and Open Organization (see Social Networking and Business, postings 44-46 for Parts 1-3,
Crowd Sourcing and the Opening Up of Open Innovation,
Keeping Innovation Fresh – 16: adding the crowd to this puzzle, and
• My series: Connecting into the Crowd as a Source of Insight and Market Advantage (see Business strategy and operations – 2, postings 275 and loosely following for Parts 1-13.)

I would discuss crowds and crowdsourcing here, from two specific perspectives in keeping with the goals of this series:

• Better understanding innovators from the crowd, and connecting with and working with them, and
• Outlining at least some of the due diligence issues that an acquiring business, dealing with crowd-originating innovators, has to manage for this process to succeed.

And I begin that by discussing these innovators themselves.

People contribute their innovative skills and the fruits of their labor to the open online conversation of the crowd and through crowdsourcing for a variety of reasons.

• They can and do look for peer recognition and status and this is almost always at least one of the reasons people pursue when contributing to the crowd and through that venue to specific organizations.
• They can and do contribute their ideas and insights for monetary and other direct remunerative compensation too, and certainly when contributing their innovations to businesses that, for example, offer monetary or at least monetizable rewards to contributors whose efforts come to the top in crowd or other polling as to market appeal or utility.
• They can be looking for opportunity to bolster their professional credentials and verify their skills, experience and workplace value. That can be important here too and even when the innovators in question are not explicitly looking for new work opportunities.

Expectations become very important here too:

• What crowdsourced innovators look for and expect from crowdsourced sharing of their innovative capacity,
• Depends in significant part on the expectations that an acquiring organization creates,
• From how it enters into and engages with its outside communities,
• And through how it declares its participation in this type of value exchange.

The acquiring business in effects offers its markets and surrounding communities, and the innovative crowd that arises from it, a social contract with the terms it offers for participating in this activity serving as the terms of that contract. And with that as a starting foundation, how this business actually follows through in acknowledging and working with crowdsourced innovators it deals with, establishes the terms of its role and validity in this and even its legitimacy to this open larger community.

• This means knowing and understanding the needs, desires and expectations of members of the crowdsource community that they start out with from previous collaborative participation.
• This means understanding what terms are being offered and what are being implied as well, by the innovation acquiring organization,
• And this means finding ways to mesh the two so as to reach mutual satisfaction.

And this brings me directly to the due diligence issues that the acquiring organization should, at minimum, include in its strategic and operational decision making processes and both when considering crowdsourcing the acquisition of innovation and when reviewing and performance evaluating results obtained from this effort. I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will delve into those issues. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at HR and Personnel and also at Business Strategy and Operations and at its continuation page: Business Strategy and Operations – 2.

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