After the huge financial crash Iceland suffered back in 2008, they have bounced back into the headlines with a world first - crowdsourcing their new constitution across social media channels.
Is it a risky mob rule strategy or is it a strategy for democratic success?
Interestingly, this question is not unique to Iceland. This is the very same decision faced by any brand or business in the era of the social web. Adopt a crowdsourced digital strategy or continue with an out dated, old school approach to business and face extinction.
The financial crash had a profound effect on Iceland and as with many social and organisational crashes it provided a chance for the government to re-write the rule book and start again. The previous Icelandic constitution was completely based on the Danish constitution and adopted in 1944 when Iceland gained independence from Denmark. So this really is the first time Iceland has actually decided to write it's own rules. A true paradigm shift.
Last year the Icelandic government decided to embark on a radical change in the forming of the new constitution. They invited 950 randomly selected citizens in to basically brainstorm and discuss the new constitution. It was agreed that the public should be involved throughout the process rather than just be allowed in to vote at the conclusion.
So in November 2010 a committee of 25 people where elected to run a new process whereby the creation of the constitution would be run as an open crowdsourced digital project across all digital channels.
Regularly since April this year new clauses for the constitution have been posted on the website for consideration and comment. An open and iterative process. The work in progress constitutional document is a live evolving document
The Facebook page holds the timeline of the dialogue, keeping all interested parties up to date on the process. Critically also giving a direct line for open debate and dialogue. It is also receiving a good deal of posts from well wishers globally. Positive sentiment for the move towards digital democracy is resoundingly positive.
Don't be off put by the initial impression of low numbers of followers in these social channels. Iceland already have 3x the proportional following of the UK Government on Facebook.
The population of Iceland is around 300k - Iceland government Facebook fans 2,206 = approx 0.7% following
The population of UK is around 61 Million - Conservative government Facebook fans 146k = approx 0.2% following
(albeit both have a mix of international following too)
Iceland have implemented a great example of a successful modern business strategy. Not just the simple practicality of the social channel reach - Facebook penetration in Iceland is currently around 63% of the population. The third highest in the world. [source: social bakers] - But critical to this strategy is the fundamental shift change of modern marketing...
"The customer is at the heart of the process. Not the end of it."
Involve the final decision makers from the beginning - your customers. Make use of all social channels that have good reach and demographic match with your target audience.
Engage openly and invite through multiple social media channels. Curate the demand before the supply.
Iterative creation and development of final products that already have a home army of followers and come with confidence of actual demand.
It's been working well for the likes of Dell, Starbucks, Threadless, Spreadshirt and Walkers along with many independent crowdsourced marketplaces. Now Iceland join the list of organisations who have chosen to tap into the crowd through the power of the social web. I can only praise Iceland for this bold and sensible move towards digital democracy. I for one will be quoting them as further proof for the reliable and sensible use of social media and crowdsourcing for effective business success.