Do you ever wish you had more of everything- more time, more money and more resources? I do. Crowdsourcing is the "genie" that can grant us those wishes if we know how to unlock its hidden power. We are all familiar with crowdsourcing; some of us have used it for business, others have simply read about it. However, human society has only scratched the surface of what is possible through it. Yes, it is quite an effective and efficient way of getting things done with the help of the world’s smartest people. However, there is much more untapped opportunity in the power of the crowd to discover still.
1. Empowerment and Influence
Feeling significant is what we all want. The passionate life coach, Tony Robbins, knows what makes people tick. He identifies that feeling significant, sense of contribution, connection and growth are 4 of the six basic human needs. If these needs aren't being met or worse, are neglected for extended periods, people lose their sense of fulfillment and get depressed. Individuals do different things to meet these needs-some save lives while others take them. However, it doesn't have to be extreme ends of the spectrum. Instead, we could pursue golden middle ground by utilizing the power of crowdsourcing in meeting these needs. There are many effective and easy ways to obtain the feeling of empowerment. For me, it was participating in one of the HeroX crowdsourcing idea competitions. I didn't do it to feel significant, nor to get the prize money, but rather it was the genuine desire to contribute. And if my idea could make this world a bit better, well, even the thought made me feel over the moon! It is empowering to go beyond our own gain to help others. Just like the joy we feel in giving gifts, but in this case, giving a gift to the entire planet!
When you are a part of the crowd, you get to play the expert, the superhero -- and all of us are! Individuals have never had as much power and access to greatness as they have today, yet so many of us feel alone, powerless and insignificant. This can only change with action. And taking action is easy; join for which you care deeply. Some groups are transforming history right now, whether by fighting social injustice, fostering human rights or ensuring freedom of information. However, the cause doesn't have to be so big- it is up to you how you wish to contribute, and the beautiful thing is that all of us have something to give.
2. Increased Productivity
The most precious thing anyone can own is time. It is priceless but for a compelling cause, people will gladly offer their time, expertise and even money. Us humans, have survived the trials of untamed nature through our capacity to work together. We are naturally great at it and it is high time we use it to benefit each and every one of us. No matter how big or small- all of us have dreams and now, with the help of crowdsourcing and the Internet, we can make those dreams come true. Any goal or dream requires resources and this is where we get together. Just as an anthill and New York never sleep, crowdsourcing can offer increased productivity for each and every one of us. While it is the night time in Rome where you are, there is a graphic designer in Tokyo working on your project- all you have to do is ask. As an individual, we have limited production capacity however with the crowd and technology, the productivity will skyrocket as your project gets input by hundreds, thousand or even millions of people. This is the crowdsourcing of not such a distant future. It might look something like this:
1. Write down the concept of your dream/idea and craft a mission statement about it.
2. ‘’Feed’’ it to the crowd for the magic to happen.
Crowdsourcing will provide you with the best solutions and it will also help you come up with the best questions since asking the right questions is vital to the success of any project. We won’t be standing on shoulders of giants anymore; we will be holding their hands. Just imagine the impact of such laser-efficient actions powered by billions of minds on the progress of our civilization.
3. Decision-making time
There is mental "strength" in numbers. What if you had a super power and you didn't even know about it? In his best- seller book titled ‘’Wisdom of Crowds’’ former writer for ‘’The New Yorker’’ James Surowiecki reveals that the crowd as a whole has a super power which is not being utilized: the ability to make the best possible decisions and find solutions to complex problems. This has significant implications because these skills are not so easy to master for people individually.
3. Larger pools of information yielding better results.
This might sound unlikely, but James Surowiecki backs it up in his book with research done on the subject over many decades. What is even more curious, is that success of the crowd's collective brain doesn't even depend on its smartest individuals nor on how many of them are in the group.
The key to the mystery lies in the following principles:
1. Two essential components of statistics are information and marginal error. Certainty is approached by minimizing the marginal error.
2.Crowd diversity -- wherein the more diverse the participants, the better results. Prof. Scott E. Page of Michigan University has done vast research on diversity and its effects on complex systems. What he found was that a group that is made up of some smart agents and some not-so-smart agents almost always did better than a group made up just of smart agents. This means that on a group level, intelligence alone is not enough as it cannot give you different perspectives. This implies that a group that is homogeneous --where group members are all very similar-- is less likely to bring new information. However, there is more to diversity than meets the eye. What is interesting is that apart from delivering different and fresh perspectives, diversity is also crucial to the process of evolution. This progressive point on why we should embrace and foster it comes from Pamela Mang and Ben Haggard, the authors of ‘’Regenerative Development and Design’’. They advocate that true value doesn't come just from the differences in participants, it is created through their interactions. Here is food for thought; ‘’evolution favors exchanges that create value, especially those that contribute to the viability of an even larger system in a continually evolving world’’. If you need help with decision making or finding the best way forward, turn to the people. We have underestimated and underutilized the crowd’s collective brain power for far too long and we shouldn't be afraid of averaging. Because the pathway to collective wisdom lies in its diverse members and the value that comes from their interactions.
4. A Holistic View
Two heads are better than one but not as good as 10 000! There is a good reason for this statement. 4 Each and every one of us sees the world in a unique and subjective way, therefore coming together can reveal to us many other perspectives beyond our personal imagination. The crowd has an infinite potential for imagination and creativity and finally, we have the power to harness it for the benefit of all:
1. A diverse crowd can offer a holistic, systems view of any project- a great advantage in effectively solving complex issues of the modern world.
2. Through different perspectives, the crowd can point out your mistakes. January of 1921, in an interview with the American Magazine, Thomas Edison told a valuable story. After he had conducted thousands of experiments and failed, his assistant was ready to throw his hands in the air to which Edison cheerily assured: ‘We have indeed learned something. We learned 10 000 ways it can’t be done, and we will have to try some other way!’’ Unlike Edison, you don't have to go through 10,000 failures before finding the solution. Get the crowd to fail your idea quickly, and you will get to your goal that much faster! I am not 100% convinced that crowdsourcing is the silver bullet to all issues, but it has many things to offer. I agree with Dr. Daniel Wahl ‘’Designing Regenerative Cultures’’- to solve many of the global problems; we need to change how we see ourselves and our place in the Universe. From alone and helpless to united and powerful.
Too many people are fighting depression and a feeling of isolation, this leads to paralysis. We need to end the idea of our separateness because it doesn't bring any benefit. Inter-being, on the other hand, leads to feeling united and self-sufficient.
You are not alone; you have the power of the crowd.