Jobs and the Future of Work

3 ways to crowdsource ideas for business

Gerd Ehrhardt
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This article is published in collaboration with SAP Community Network.

As organizations transform by and through migrating to cloud, they face a challenge of scaling rapidly in ever shortening timeframes to achieve or to retain competitive edge. This requires change management on an unprecedented, global scale and hence requires organizations to use their resources flexibly whenever required.

This is only possible if the organizational leadership realizes and understands the importance of leveraging their existing networks the organization has in its globally dispersed ecosystem. Leveraging this is crucial for leaders looking to develop innovative ideas including, but not limited to the following:

  • Enhancing process efficiency
  • Developing strategies for reducing friction before point of sale and shortening transaction times,
  • Increasing customers benefit from easier operation,
  • Increasing business mobility (the availability and service offerings to fulfill customer needs in any location)

In an ever-changing landscape of the marketplace, leaders, alone, cannot generate innovative responses to the new challenges fast enough. They need aid of co-innovators.

Welcome to the era of crowdsourcing ideation for business activities.

Innovation through Crowdsourcing

The task of the leaders is to create the space and conditions that facilitate crowdsourced ideas. Moreover, they need to enable crowdsourcing ideation for business activities, connecting with the vast resources, then identifying, and empowering those who are predestinated for the desired innovative ideas.

But how can they make it happen?

Crowdsourcing ideation leadership, by its nature is agile. Hence, finding a standardized model of ideation is not easy. However, I believe Crowdsourcing ideation leadership has been in practice long enough to conclude three best practices.

Three Best Practices for Crowdsourcing Ideation

1.Provide clear communication guidelines — Online communication should be accurate, short to the point and need to aim attention at the subject. Ideators should avoid irony, dialect, and specialized language that make communications vague during the idea creation process and they must set aside their charisma, and use the right language to engage each other.

2.Nurture and moderate a diverse crowd — Innovation is often spontaneous and hence you must go beyond “know” people. Colleagues from all functions of your organization, partners, and customers are important but moving beyond subject matter experts is crucial. Combine people who are not directly linked to the subject, but have the knowledge, experience, and local expertise or other specifications because they are not caged by current standards and best practices and hence often bring intuitive ideas that can be further explored. A respective moderation and communication exchange should be ensured.

3.Enable every single ideator and reward exclusive ideas — Create a comfortable environment for the ideators so that they can openly share their own ideas without anxiety and concerns e.g. not being credited for their idea. Minimize herd mentality and encourage people that they will not get influenced by their peers to follow only others suggestions. Reward the courage of respective contributions during the idea creation process.

Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Gerd Ehrhardt is a contributor for SAP Community Networks. 

Image: Pedestrians walk inside a train station in Tokyo. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao.

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Jobs and the Future of WorkLeadershipBusiness
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