Thursday, July 29, 2010

Network Sourcing

Over the last two years crowd sourcing has been a hot topic for a lot of marketing agencies, either positive in case of gathering more interesting ideas from a wide range of free-lancing type talent, or negative in case of clients who avoid paying high fees to agencies by using crowd-sourcing tools to get free ideas.

Interestingly enough, most marketing organizations have misunderstood and misused the concept of crowd sourcing. Instead of using the underlying philosophy and related tools to leverage the internal resources that are quite often spread across tens or hundreds of offices, they perceive it either as a cost efficient way to collect ideas or as a revenue threatening danger utilized by clients. The real power of crowd sourcing can be leveraged when it is understood as network-sourcing to truly build a globally connected organization. This requires a few ingredients:

  • Put a clear brief, tight timeline, and a democratic evaluation system in the center of the network sourcing assignment that is distributed to a manageable number of people in the organization’s network. More is not always better.
  • Balance the drive for great ideas with the benefit of utilizing network sourcing as a tool to virtually bring together a normally poorly connected network of physically separated offices. Network-sourcing is both about idea generation and building a connected organization.
  • Celebrate the winning ideas in a public forum to show the power of the marketing agency as an exciting virtual network that is better than just the sum of all the different global locations
  • Slowly learn of how this “Closed loop network” can be opened up to some external players without diminishing the focus on the integrating powers of the network-sourcing

The principles of crowd-sourcing will become increasingly a strong approach of how to join large marketing organizations together against one common challenge and brief without the high travel and communication costs and frictions that we have been used to.