“Crowds” are becoming more and more important in innovative problem solving. Whether using groups of people to give feedback on products, relying on them to share your ideas, or executing your goals, “the crowd” can help you tackle problems in new ways you might not have been already aware of. What are some of the features of a crowd that leads to innovative problem solving?
First of all, crowds tend to be loosely formed and organized. Rather than reflecting a traditional hierarchical power structure, crowds are democratized. Any one voice isn’t more important than another. Marshaling a crowd can be challenging in terms of management, but the flexible and ever-changing nature of crowds inspires innovative problem solving.
Another benefit of a crowd is a sense of community. Communities of individuals are essential for spurring on innovative problem solving. Free flow of information and the respect of peers provide a fertile ground for new ideas. People in communities challenge each other to be better. Further, communication within a crowd can inspire different ways of looking at a problem. A shared sense of identity and values gives a community a sense of cohesion, which then helps build support for innovative problem solving.
One way of harnessing a crowd is through contests. Asking people to come up with an innovative solution to a problem via competition inspires new ideas and strategies. Competitors from a crowd don’t have certain barriers present in many institutions, such as salaries, corporate culture and past expectations. They can quickly address a problem without previous successes or failures hindering innovation. A crowd contest introduces your problem to people with varied interests and abilities that you may not have present in your own business.
Using the crowd to inspire innovative problem solving is important for any business to deal with challenges and develop ideas.