The Best Way to Crowdsource Ideas

Last Updated Jun 17, 2011 3:16 PM EDT

Innovation expert Roberto Verganti gives us an interesting way to think about idea generation when working with collaborators. Is it better to have lots of ideas to choose from, or a few ideas of higher quality? The answer will help you decide whether you approach hundreds of idea-generators using a crowdsourcing agency such as Innocentive, or bring together a few brilliant minds.

Quantity and quality serve different purposes, Verganti writes. Quantity gives a better chance to receive great ideas. But high-quality collaboration is useful when trying to assess all these opportunities. "Highly skillful collaborators can help you to better interpret this wealth of insights, to recognize the value of ideas that is not often visible at first, especially when it comes to radical change, and to identify a novel strategic direction."

In short, "If quantity is good for creating ideas, quality is good for setting a vision."

That's a useful standard to explore the next time you are tasked to develop a great new product. Cast a wide net for ideas from customers, your marketing team, your R&D team, and even competitors. With that list in hand, convene a trusted team of collaborators who can envision the best strategic direction these ideas present for growth.

For more great ideas, read Verganti's post Quantity vs. Quality in Collaborations.

Where do you turn to when digging up great ideas?

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(Image by Flickr user woodleywonderworks, CC 2.0)
  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.