I was reading an article on crowdsourcing and it prompted a thought about crowdsourcing and its use by HR professionals. Many HR professionals are single or small departments that may struggle with handling innovation or even thinking through new ideas. Many of us may have a network of contacts we use to ask questions, which in a sense is a version of crowdsourcing. Others of us rely on SHRM to get questions answered, though that may not offer actual solutions. I thought perhaps that we could make greater use of crowdsourcing to help us get through our day.
What is crowdsourcing?
Not all of you may be familiar with the term crowdsourcing. Wikipedia says “Crowdsourcing, a modern business term coined in 2006, is defined by Merriam-Webster as the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers…”
“By definition, crowdsourcing combines the efforts of numerous self-selected volunteers or part-time workers, where each contributor adds a contribution that may combine with those of others to achieve a greater result; hence, crowdsourcing is distinguished from outsourcing in particular for a number of reasons; including that the work may come from an undefined public, rather than being commissioned from a specific, named group, and for the fact that crowdsourcing includes a mix of bottom-up and top-down processes. Regarding the most significant advantages of using crowdsourcing the literature generally discussed costs, speed, quality, flexibility, scalability, and diversity.”
According to the author of the article, Michael Contreras, the use of crowdsourcing is not just a small company phenomenon. Large companies and even governments are using crowdsourcing as a solution to stale thought processes and lack of labor. If big companies like Apple, IBM and GE, as well as various branches of the Federal government can use crowdsourcing to solve problems and create new solutions why shouldn’t the small HR department do the same thing? We all understand the value of a different point of view so why not reach out and get several?
The collective knowledge
The collective knowledge and experience of many HR people can be a powerful tool. That is exhibited to an extent by the interaction on some of the HR focused LinkedIn groups. There are a multitude of resources available to you, as this excellent article, How to crowdsource anything, points out. You might start with your local HR community. Ask them a question and see if they can provide an answer. (Don’t have email addresses for your local HR community? Shame on you! Go to meetings and collect cards. Build that list.) On a larger scale conferences work well too. In fact the SHRM National conference this June in Washington, D.C. will be an excellent source. The cost of it is offset by the solutions you may get for free.
Beyond that there are numerous places you can get work done, such as Fiverr or Tenerr. My daughter in-law has a small business and she had gotten a number of things done through Fiverr. The work that is being done does not have to be local. Having contacts in England or India may give you a different perspective on how things are done around the world. Perhaps they may offer you a solution you had not thought of.
Time and money
Hollis Thomases, in her article, How to Crowdsource anything, states there are numerous reasons for crowdsourcing that include:
- Execute work you might not be able to do on your own
- Find solutions to problems
- Generate new ideas
- Tap into diverse thinking
- Reduce expenses
- Save time
- Create things
I will add another. It will make you look smart and capable.
So tap into this wealth of resources and explore crowdsourcing as a way to get yourself out of a hole and move forward with what you are trying to accomplish.
If you make it to Washington, D.C. for #SHRM16 make sure you look for me and introduce yourself. I can be found at the Blogger Lounge or walking around the conference. Let’s become part of each others network.
Photo credit: Stuart Miles