Crowd-sourcing is fine, until you bump into control freaks

Posted on October 17th 2010

I ran into a great post on Crowd-sourcing,by Sid Roy, at an ad agency blog, PO Box. I was very impressed because this is the kind of topic that agency types who –at least the traditional ones — used to be very suspicious of: outsiders invading their turf.

The gist of the post is that is that co-creation, collaboration and open sourcing are here. And that marketing models that worked fabulously well in a world of scarcity would be ‘severely challenged to work in a world of abundance.’

Challenged is an understatement, isn’t it, Sid?

(You probably wanted to say ‘crushed!’)

I pointed out that while it’s taken awhile for crowd sourcing to catch on (Surowiecki’s book on The Wisdom of The Crowds, notwithstanding). There might be three reasons for this:

1. The ‘NIH’ syndrome. The team or department is often threatened by ideas that are ‘Not Invented Here’

2. Intellectual Property lawyers. Very recently Boeing and Apple rejected ideas from outsiders because they have been advised to not solicit or welcome ideas form people who might later sue them if the idea (or some flavour of it) is used.

3. Crowd-sourcing is somewhat anarchic. It’s not easy to manage the crowd in the traditional sense, since they don’t have roles, titles, proper compensation structures etc.

I can see why an ad/marcom agency might be reluctant to solicit and execute a campaign that came from a ‘bazaar’

Or why a school might not want to publish a text book based on knowledge sourced via Wiki platform

Those who control the distribution, creative and knowledge portals, and wear these hats aren’t ready to let the crowds run the show.

Full Disclosure: I used to work for Phoenix Ogilvy and Mather, publishers of the blog


Angelo Fernando

I am an author, business columnist, blogger and podcaster. A former communications strategist, I now teach computer and technology at an elementary school. 

My latest book is Chat Republic: Why Social Media Drives Us to be Human 1.0 in a Web 2.0 World.

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Posted on October 17th 2010 at 6:49PM

I read Sid Roy's post. Thanks for providing that link.

Regarding the notion that various controllers aren't ready to "let the crowds run the show," if they are smart they won't ever let the crowds run anything.

The examples in Roy's post show how smart marketers and smart brands are using technology to discern what consumers ("the crowd") want and then giving it to them. I don't think anything has been surrendered to the crowds.