Tapping into Crowdsourcing for Team Collaboration

How do you get timely and thorough input and participation from your team? One way to ensure everyone has their say — or is at least given the opportunity to provide input — is to apply some principles of crowdsourcing to  team communications.

What is crowdsourcing? One of the most common definitions of crowdsourcing is “an open call to an undefined group of people.” This definition seems to exclude the call for input from a more defined and limited group: your team. Crowdsourcing techniques, however, leverages technology to “harness” the input of many and to apply that input toward getting results of some kind. Many can simply be more than one and those many can be within your organization.

Some popular uses of crowdsourcing include:

  • Crowd wisdom where many can contribute possible answers to questions.
  • Crowd innovation where many can participate in problem-solving.
  • Crowd creation where many can be part of producing something and often each participant takes a smaller piece of the whole based on their skills and abilities.
  • Crowd voting where the best ideas “bubble” to the top by community review and voting.

Take these crowdsourcing techniques and apply them to problem-solving, creative brainstorming, and creation tasks within your organization. Use readily available crowdsourcing technology and platforms to facilitate those processes.

By using crowdsourcing tools and applying broader methods of soliciting crowd input, allowing for group voting of ideas, and reaching across disciplines for participation, you can:

  • Innovate more quickly because you are tapping into your team in different ways
  • Identify issues and reach solutions more effectively by utilizing your team more widely
  • Gain insights into your team’s talents and abilities by providing more open opportunities for participation

In some situations, crowdsourcing can take on a competitive edge in the form of a contest or competition where participants are rewarded in some way for the “best” solution — and the best solution is often not something determined by a top-down approach, but rather by the votes of the crowdsourcing community as a whole. In some circumstances, applying a competitive layer to participation in problem-solving or innovation initiatives can increase motivation and stimulate better responses.

Here are a few crowdsourcing tools that can be used to mine your online communities for input but can also be used on a smaller scale for your team:

Google Moderator – a free platform to build a Q&A tool or to solicit submissions that can be voted up or down. Here’s an example of a discussion I created about our Obsession with Technology.

Kindling – platform to “discuss ideas, solve problems, and pursue opportunities.” Starts at $9 per user.

IdeaScale – platform to “collect feedback and ideas.” They have a limited free version.

Using your team for crowdsourcing can not only help  get voices heard and get things done collaboratively, it can potentially produce fresh, interesting and beneficial outcomes.

I discuss crowdsourcing basics in my book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Crowdsourcing.


  1. Suzi Schmittlein

    You should check out waggl! Cool lightweight crowdsourcing tool—free for next few months. waggl gets its quirky name from the dance that honeybees have used for millions of years to surface ideas and make decisions – the so called waggle dance that bees use to debate options and reach consensus. waggl addresses the major shortcomings of surveys, interviews, focus groups, and enterprise collaboration & social tools – the most popular methods for collecting insights and data from groups and communicating the findings. The olympics even used it!

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