Crowdsourcing methods are related to and supported by the tools as I mentioned previously.  These methods must be supported by the tools and next it is important that the tools and the methods be flexible to support changes and improvements in the methods that are identified and incorporated based on the executing and supporting these methods and tools.  Remember there are two keys to success, one is a focus on the process, people and technology involved in supporting the collaborative network and the other is maintaining the sequence of your focus as process, people and technology.  Do not allow the focus on technology to overcome the process no matter how much pressure.

One critical function of the crowdsourcing process is encouraging the participation of as many partners as possible.  This requires two factors to encourage the participation:

  1. A topic that is interesting to a broad range of partners.  This interest is generated by a topic that can provide benefits to the partners that participate.  In other words, in order to be successful you must select a topic that will provide benefits to the broadest range of partners.
  2. Ease of participation in the discussion through methods and technology.  The methods include maintaining a current distribution list of your collaborative network partners.  The technology is the communication methods such as social networking tools that allow partners to check in and check out of discussions very easily.

The way that I think is best to view the crowdsourcing is to think of it as an asynchronous conversation across a broad range of partners.  This can be as simple as something like a LinkedIn discussion where members are notified of the discussion and can easily check in to monitor and, or, participate as they desire.  This allows a broad spectrum of participation in a manner that does not require remembering to check in on the conversation.  The process that makes the LinkedIn discussion groups work so well is the regular updates regarding the discussions to the members of the group.  The development and use of private discussion groups ensure that all the members have the opportunity to participate.  Never underestimate the power of inclusion in this process, the key to collaboration and participation is generating the broad inclusion of all members of the collaborative network. 

Now then, after you’ve developed this process to maintain, coordinate and communicate the discussion you will need to develop a method to wrap up the discussion with a document of results that include the benefits to the members of incorporating the suggestions.  This should be developed from the beginning as a library of capabilities, processes and best practices to be utilized by the network.  This library must be open and available to the members at all times for reference.  This library is the reason for collaboration and will bring benefits in an on going basis.

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

How do you incorporate the different methods of communication to support your collaborative network needs and objectives?  Do you have a formal maintenance communication plan that your partners have participated in developing?  How does the informal communications methods impact and support the formal communications?  Have you developed an evaluation plan for your communications methods, a type of continuous improvement process for your communication methods and communications plans?