Internal crowdsourcing is a powerful tool for engaging employees and opening up new sources of innovation — that is the conclusion four year study published this year on the MIT Sloan Management review titled “Developing Innovative Solutions Through Internal Crowdsourcing”. The authors conducted in depth analyses at three large organizations in retail, healthcare and telecommunications, providing guidance and overseeing internal crowdsourcing efforts, and worked with another seven companies collecting data on crowdsourcing challenges. As the authors put it:
Because many large companies have pockets of expertise and knowledge scattered across different locations, we have found that harnessing the cognitive diversity within organizations can open up rich new sources of innovation. Internal crowdsourcing is a particularly effective way for companies to o engage younger employees and people working on the front lines.
Comparison of external and internal crowdsourcing from the study Developing Innovative Solutions Through Internal Crowdsourcing
The study also identified common roadblocks to successful internal crowdsourcing. They include focusing on incremental adjustments rather than broad innovation, lack of time and hesitation over participation, and lack of feedback. To address those roadblocks, the authors suggest seven action steps for developing successful campaigns:
- Keep the focus on long term innovation
- Give internal crowdsourcing participants slack time
- Allow for anonymous participation
- Ensure that company experts don’t exert their influence too heavily.
- Use a collaborative process for internal crowdsourcing
- Design platforms that facilitate shared development and evolution of solutions
- Be transparent about plans for follow-up post-crowdsourcing
Laissez was built to facilitate that process — our challenge driven model enables users to easily create innovation sprints, and quickly gather submissions across the entire team.
As an example of success, the authors mention the company Li & Fung, which asked employees worldwide to submit their ideas on an online platform. Using pre-established criteria, a team of executives and internal experts selected the most promising ideas. Employees also had opportunities to vote on the best ideas, narrowing the selections down. In the final stage, teams presented the solutions to a senior team that oversaw the challenge, and the top three teams were then asked to refine their solutions and present a broader set of executives.
Internal crowdsourcing is a powerful tool, but has to be managed well to yield the best results. In addition to having good crowdsourcing tools, managers need to be aware of best practices. Laissez streamlines the process of creating challenges and makes it readily accessible for everyone, so that managers and participants can focus on what matters — defining problems and coming up with the best ideas.
Laissez is completely free and it takes less than a minute from signup to creating your first challenge and inviting participants — give it a try!