CrowdSourcing is a collaborative open call approach to problem solving and idea creation. One such example is Google’s Project Glass, which involved the company sharing an idea for future technology and requesting feedback from the public to create consumer driven products. Recently I read a research paper from McKinsey Quarterly by Arne Gast and Michele Zanini on the idea of crowdsourcing corporate strategy, which I will discuss in this blog post.
So often an organization’s strategy suffers from a lack of diverse perspectives and lack of leader understanding of the operational challenges their employees face. As a result strategies are often created that sound great in the boardroom but have the opposite impact in practice. Leaders that fail to consider the implications of their strategic decisions on front line employees, may experience implementation challenges from employees who do not support the organization’s strategic vision.
Benefits of this approach
By incorporating perspectives from front line employees, strategies are less likely to be flawed relative to those created in isolation. Crowdsourced strategies have the potential to be more insightful and actionable. Employees are likely to become more engaged as they learn that their opinions are encouraged and can make a difference. As a result of greater employee involvement, implementation is easier and employees are more likely to support the company’s strategic direction.
CrowdSourcing strategy in practice
Companies that have adopted this approach range from the obvious: Wikimedia to companies that were not founded on collaborative content creation such as 3M, HCL Technologies and Rite-Solutions. HCL Technologies rethought their business-planning process to create greater transparency and to generate more diverse feedback and insights on their business plans. In 2009 the company launched an online platform called My Blueprint and invited more than 8,000 employees to view 300 posted business plans. Interested individuals gave detailed, actionable feedback on the plans and quality insights were obtained. By including others in the process, opportunities for cross-unit collaboration were more easily identified. Overall crowdsourcing enabled the company to gain fresh perspectives to greater analyze their business plans and focus on specific actions to take to achieve desired results.
While the concept of crowdsourcing strategy is a very new idea, this concept has great potential to improve decision-making, avoid group think, eliminate ideas that would not work well in practice and to create visions that are more meaningful to lower level employees. What do you think? Would your organization be open to crowdsourcing their strategy? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.