Posts Tagged ‘crowdsourcing’
5th February 13
Posted in collaboration
One of the most amazing things about the internet era is people coming together in unique and scalable combinations. Yet organizing crowds is much more difficult than most organizations imagine.
Few people know more about facilitating mass collaboration than Shaun Abrahamson, the CEO of Mutopo. When Shaun talks, we listen. In fact, sometimeswe even ride his coattails on the subject. Shaun recently co-authored a book called Crowdstorm. It was released yesterday, so we invited him to sit down for a Q&A.
You can purchase Crowdstorm here.
Q. Crowdsourcing is used as a label for an ever increasing universe. Where does crowdstorming fit in?
The best way to think about all the facets of crowdsourcing is in terms of what we’re asking participants to do. For example, in microwork, like mechanical turk, we’re asking people to do small things like, tell us if this is porn (to create content filters) or verify a business listing. In crowdfunding, like Kickstarter, we’re asking people for cash and influence (when they announce their support via the social webs). In collaborative consumption, like AirBnB, we’re often asking people to provide assets to be shared, and often their networks and reputation so that we may build trust.
In crowdstorming, we focus on actions that crowds can take in relation to ideas: finding ideas, finding people or organizations to come up with ideas, offering feedback and rating/ranking ideas. Crowdstorming can include ideas through a range of maturity, from the napkin stage through to early stage companies. While writing the book, we realized that some of the basic patterns were pretty old. They had been described by Alex Osborne (the “O” in BBDO) when he introduced the world to brainstorming just after WWII. Osborne was mostly concerned with small groups of people coming up with and evaluating ideas. We just see networked crowds where he saw folks in a conference room.
Q. So is crowdstorming a fancy name for idea contests?
I see contests as a subset of crowdstorming. Crowdstorming tends to fall into 3 broad buckets: search, collaborative, integrated. We think contests fall into the search bucket because they are mainly focused on searching for the best ideas (or candidates, partners, etc). Often the search process is desirable because we have something we can test. Think of XPrize or DARPA Grand Challenges – there are spaceships and robot cars that can compete to see who wins.
Other crowdstorms are more collaborative. This is often true when there aren’t prototypes to race through the desert or fire into space. The key is deciding as early as possible which concepts are worthy of additional time and investment. Following the 1-9-90 rule, think of this collaborative approach as benefiting from the 9 – the “editors” so to speak. Thus while the 1 may submit ideas, the 9 are engaged to provide feedback. And this feedback is used to refine and select ideas. LEGO Cuusoo is good example of a collaborative crowdstorm. It is not so much a contest, as it is a filter. People or teams pitch new LEGO product ideas. The Cuusoo community needs to give the idea 10,000 votes before an idea will be reviewed by the LEGO team. This is where LEGO Minecraft came from.
I use the word “community” quite deliberately here, because when you add feedback, you drastically increase the number of participants and interactions. And if you invite the same group back to pitch and evaluate multiple ideas, you see relationships form. Yes, you see a competitive dynamic, but also a lot more collaboration. And increasingly we see participants being rewarded for more than just their ideas. Just look at the payouts from Giffgaff, which cover a broad range of contribution types, like sales, support and unique participation in the idea processes.
Q. One of the most interesting themes in the book is how innovative organizations scale talent via non-employees. This is a major discussion topic amongst agencies and clients. What companies are doing this best that we can learn from?
I really think this is a question of what patterns you adopt and where in the process you look to outsiders. One of the best illustrations of this type of thinking comes from Quirky. They literally remapped the consumer product development process around where outside talent can provide the most value.
If we look at the process above, Quirky smartly and explicitly positions themselves as the support system for inventors. They know there are lots of difficult steps like industrial design, quality control and distribution negotiations that require their leadership and control. They can manage the risks and quality in these steps. But Quirky also figures out how to measure and reward participation in some specific roles where it knows the crowd can help. Interestingly, measurement and reward systems inside firms are starting to show similar elements – just take a look at Salesforce’s Work.com. I think as we get better at measurement, it will get easier to bring in outside talent to add value to any creative process.
In terms of the ad business, the process below shows Amazon’s approach to the production of filmed content at Amazon Studios. They are taking their expertise from ratings and reviews, and applying it to content development. And if you look at the role of crowdfunding in areas like film development, you can see another voting style. We tend to focus on the finance, but pre-selling also provides a strong indication of the potential of an idea.
Most of the crowdstorm processes we have discussed have focused on finding and evaluating ideas. This is useful, but we forget that behind the ideas are talented individuals. Startup accelerators like Techstars are running idea contests – this is how teams make it into their programs. But they are focused on the ideas as well as the talent. And they offer a different set of incentives to work together; unlike Quirky and Amazon, who own the resulting IP, accelerators just want a small share. They want the teams to take the ideas forward. Techstars recently teamed up with Nike+. Why? Yes, Nike needs developers for their Nike+ platform, but they need a different type of talent, too. In this case it’s talent that is willing to share risks. As a side benefit, Nike will be pitched loads of ideas, so they get to validate their own understanding of the space. And while they might give away ownership, they have tapped into talent that might never have considered working for Nike.
Q. Now a question every author should have to go on the record with…. Who’s your favorite Transformer?
I think I risk being redacted by not saying Optimus, right? But I always liked Wheeljack because he invented stuff, even it mostly didn’t work. But this wasn’t an obvious choice, so I poked around a bit and realized that his first incarnation was a Lancia Stratos Turbo. That car is the embodiment of taking risks and it mostly worked. And it still looks like it might turn into something else. So Wheeljack wins.
Special thanks to Shaun for sharing his thinking with us. If the above is of interest, consider downloading Crowdstorm here. (And thanks BBH Labs for already letting me come back and “guest blog”).
14th June 11
Posted in Film
Author: Alice Bullimore, Integrated Producer, BBH London
What would happen if you asked everyone in the world to take a video of their life on the same day?
Well, it’s happened. The day was July 24th 2010 and people from 120 countries uploaded over 80,000 videos. Life, in a Day.
The raw footage itself is powerful. As Alexandra Coghlan comments in her great review, “what is perhaps most extraordinary and exciting about this project are its leftovers”, and on the ‘explore’ tab at youtube.com/lifeinaday the guys at Google have made all this footage available for us to filter and view, the many stories untold.
But then there’s the film.
Kevin MacDonald & Ridley Scott at RSA undertook the ambitious curatorial job of creating their story of the world, Joe Walker took on the crazily gargantaun mission of editing.
Over 4500 hours of footage reviewed, complied and cut into a coherent 90 minute film.
The film’s not bad either.
It was well received at Sundance, Berlin and SXSW film festivals, Total Film have given it 4 stars and it currently enjoys a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
But what was it like laying down this challenge?
What if no-one had entered anything?
What if most of the crowd sourced footage was unusable?
With so much footage to go through, how do you choose what story to tell? An individual’s? The world’s? The editors’? Just whose agenda is at work, and what are the implications of a film like this?
Well, we’re privileged to be able to get a bit closer to some of these answers with a preview screening & live Q&A with the editor, Joe Walker, at BBH in London this wednesday 15th June at 5.00pm.
If you would like to ask Will and the team a question of your own, we have a limited number of tickets available for you & a friend to join us.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get a free pair of tickets. First come first served.
We look forward to seeing you.
You can also upload questions for Kevin MacDonald and Life in a Day contributors here, by 2pm UK time *today* in advance of the UK premiere. The film is on national release in Vue cinemas on Thursday.
11th August 09
Posted in transformational change
At the end of May this year we got pretty excited and the debate got fairly heated about the launch of Agency Nil – the agency with the convention-busting business model that ‘will work for all it’s worth’. In other words, they’ll do the work and you pay them what you think you should. Unorthodox, audacious stuff whichever way you look at it, we were impressed.
Since launch they’ve been approached by both clients and talent and, inevitably, as they started work on live projects (including clients with food products and online services, not to mention a pitch for a large software company’s NPD launch), one of the toughest questions facing any agency arose: when were they going to find time to do the work brilliantly AND keep scouting for new business? Clearly a conventional solution wasn’t going to cut it at Agency Nil, which is when they came up with this ultra simple, ultra ‘on brand’ idea:
Catching up again with Agency Nil’s founders, they explained the concept a little more:
“If a person connects Agency Nil with a business that would be interested in our services and they become a client within a year, Agency Nil will give the person who refers them 10% of the first payment they receive (from $100 to $100,000 or more…). This person is called an Agency Nil Spotter. All it takes to become one is an email to Agency Nil introducing the potential client (with the client cc’d, of course). Then the Spotter’s referral is documented. When Agency Nil get paid, the Spotter gets paid. Simple.”
We love the idea of an agency experimenting with new business in this way. A smart move that painlessly exploits an era where networking and sharing useful information has never been easier. What’s more, it’s in keeping with the spirit of their launch which, as they put it at the time: “It’s a win/win. And that’s the kind of business we like to be in.” Agency Nil also draw attention to the fact they’re putting into practice a simple way for talented individuals to profit from their connections: “Isn’t it about time people started to get rewarded for the networks they’ve built?”
Of course this isn’t the first time an agency has used crowd sourcing to find prospective marketing clients. Who knows, will people really refer a hot prospect? How reliable will the connections be? Will it tend to be for small projects only, or will Agency Nil land a multi-million dollar account this way? They may hit some bumps in the road along the way, but to us this approach looks like a natural next step for them and a dead simple, innovative solution to an age old problem. So again, we say hats off to Agency Nil and good luck.
If you want to sign-up as an Agency Nil Spotter, send an email to Spotter@AgencyNil.com.
11th May 09If data visualisation is the new rock and roll, Elvis has (just) left the building. Aaron Koblin played to an enthralled audience of BBH-ers this afternoon, blew our minds and incredibly kindly agreed to be interviewed by Labs afterwards.
Our interview to follow soon, but to whet your appetite, a quick download of our (and your) key questions for the rock star of the data visualisation world.Balancing immediacy and intrigue: A frequent criticism of data visualisation is that while often extremely beautiful, sometimes it doesn’t make the information contained any clearer-it can sometimes even seem to obfuscate in the name of art. Should great data visualisation simplify or should it embrace complexity and reward exploration? Should it be reductive or expansive in intent?Where left brain meets right brain: When embarking on a project, which comes first, the data or the technique? How critical a role does software play? Do the themes and memes recurring in data visualisation reflect the artists’ preoccupations or the data sets available?Proliferation versus privacy: One of the key enablers of data visualisation is the phenomenal explosion in the amounts of data we now generate everywhere we go. We live in a golden age of open-ness around personal data but will we reach a tipping point where we reclaim our personal privacies? Or will we opt in to share anonymised data for the common good?The power of synesthesia: Some of the most compelling data visualisation projects are those which express one medium-almost one sense- by means of another. Visually representing dance or music, aurally representing data sets-what is it we find so compelling about this “synesthetic” effect?
Crowd-sourcing versus the wisdom of the crowd: Koblin’s recent work experiments with crowd-sourcing but suggests an ambivalence about the process. While a central theme of data visualisation is the wisdom of the crowd, how does it skew the data if the crowd knows it’s being watched? Is the unconscious wisdom of the crowd purer and more compelling or is conscious collaboration of the masses the future? How important is the role of the curator in that process?
Answers – or at least compelling and considered answers – on a blogpost near you shortly….
3rd April 09
Posted in BBH Labs
Tasked with exploring new models for marketers, one of our first orders of business will be to hold an “open pitch” for our new logo. All interested designers please visit http://bit.ly/39yWEd for more on the deadline, the brief and the fee.
We’re posting a brief on Crowdspring well aware of the heated discussions taking place within the design community regarding sites that promote spec work. Though the crowdsourcing business model is still clearly in its infancy, BBH Labs reasoning for giving Crowdspring a try, simply put, is because the model seems to be working (albeit, better for smaller companies).
We’ve heard the arguments against Crowdspring. We’ve heard it said that it lowers the standard of what is considered “good” design. But for the purposes of this conversation, isn’t a “good” design one that pleases the person paying for it? I think Marley and Me is a “bad” film. My niece disagrees. So be it.
Another argument is that the Crowdspring model is akin to outsourcing, putting professional design work in the hands of untrained amateurs, and in the process, driving down the price real designers are able to charge for their services. If you’re a great designer, these sites shouldn’t be a threat since aspiring designers willing to work on spec is nothing new. If you’re a mediocre designer on the other hand, then consider that new technologies will only continue to make you better: just as the mouse made you better and Adobe Illustrator made you better, competing on a larger playing field should also make you better (and add to your bottom line).
I don’t want to sound overly insensitive, but evolution isn’t always orderly: we are living in a transformational period and in order to not be put out to pasture prematurely, entire industries are having to retrain themselves and rethink how business is going to be conducted going forward. From young designers to established agency networks, change is coming.
I’ll stop rambling now and come back to why we like Crowdspring. We see these sites as giving much more than they take. By matchmaking small businesses that wouldn’t have been able to otherwise afford a custom logo with a pool of designers that wouldn’t have otherwise been able to offer their services, they are helping to grow an overall appreciation for design as well as build an entirely new market that didn’t previously exist.
Will Crowdspring deliver Labs a great logo that meets our demanding and sophisticated needs? Not sure, but we’re looking forward to fishing these new waters nonetheless.