Crowdsourcing as a Driver of Business Culture Change

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Slide Show

The State of Communications and Collaboration

Companies are still wrestling with how to get the most value out of their investments.

While the hero CEO who makes all the decisions - ala the late Steve Jobs - is the exception rather than the rule, companies that have a truly collaborative approach to decision making are just as rare. For the most part, companies consist of senior level executives who are several layers removed from where the daily activities of the business take place. Like most generals, they have little insight into what's actually happening on the front line, which means most of the decisions they make are fundamentally flawed.

One increasingly popular approach to solving this problem is crowdsourcing, which basically asks employees for not only ideas but also their input on rating the strategic business value of those ideas. That may sounds like a lot of New Age thinking to a lot of business executives, but given all the complexities involved in business these days, many executives are becoming increasingly uncomfortable making major decisions based on the input of a small number of direct reports, especially when many of those direct reports are just as removed from the front lines as they are.

Obviously, the degree to which a company can rely on crowdsourcing to help make strategic decisions will vary. But given the growth of companies such as Spigit, which this week picked up another $15.2 million in financing to drive the expansion of a crowdsourcing application that is delivered as a service, interest in crowdsourcing and other social networking applications in the enterprise is on the rise. Spigit CEO Paul Pluschkell says crowdsourcing needs to be both fun for employees and continually measured in order to really be effective. That means that introducing crowdsourcing into your organization is not going to magically change the culture of your organization overnight, but it does create a foundation for the beginning of gradual change.

There's a tendency to decry the lack of innovation in business these days, which is hurting the ability for companies to compete more effectively. There's also a lot of untapped intellectual capital being poured into social networks these days that might be better put to use if there were a more methodical approach to capturing it. Allowing more people to participate in the decision-making process may not necessarily solve the innovation problem. But one thing that is certain is that without access to a larger pool of ideas, it's unlikely that anything is going to get substantially better anytime soon.