Among the many varied and informative panels we had at The Social Shake-Up last week, I had the pleasure of moderating a presentation by Bastian Unterberg, the co-founder and CEO of Berlin-based Jovoto.
Bastian was an early evangelist of crowdsourcing product design and development, and his company and crowd of creative folks have worked on such things as a Harley Davidson design for Germany beer company, Jever, and a limited edition Swiss Army knife for Victorinox.
One of Bastian's friends and peers is Peter Espersen, head of Co-Creation at LEGO. Peter is the driving force behind LEGO Ideas, a crowdsourcing platform for new LEGO designs. Fans-or groups of fans-create a new design, which is then posted on the site. Next, nascent designer try to gather support from others via social, and fans vote for their favorite designs. The design that gets 10,000 votes wins the contest, and the design is then reviewed by LEGO to determine if it can be built according to such guidelines as the complexity of the design and LEGO's plants' specifications. If the design passes muster, a new LEGO product will hit store shelves, and the designer gets one percent of the net sales.
I spoke to Peter recently, and he offered some key insights on how to launch and execute a successful crowdsourcing campaign.
1. Make sure you can handle what you ask for. "We get 20,000 unsolicited ideas a year on our call center. We had to figure out a clever way to use these ideas, hence LEGO Ideas."
2. Be upfront and don't over promise. Have clear guidelines in place and that you the bandwidth to pull off what the crowd comes up with.
3. Avoid what he calls "idea-tyranny," meaning, don't impose your ideas on the crowd. "Let the crowd do the heavy lifting."
4. Good ideas aren't enough. "You need to have social backing and social traction."
5. Have your own internal review process. "Some ideas aren't producible, and you need to have the final say."
6. Make certain that the product fits with your brand. "The product and process needs to aligns with your business objective and brands."
7. It has to be a genuine effort. "It can't be a marketing ploy because it will come off as phony."
8. The process has to be transparent. "It needs to be fair to the consumer or there will be backlash."
9. In the end, make sure that you can deliver. " A new product puts a lot of stress on your supply chain. You don't want to find yourself in a position where you run out three days before Christmas, or you'll have some very unhappy customers."
The last lesson was learned the hard way, says Peter. LEGO once found itself in that exact scenario. In 2006, LEGO ran out of Star Wars and LEGO city kits.