Design Thinking Looks to the Crowd (for answers?)

I blurted out to an associate last week, “ IDEO is doing crowdsourcing” and he said, “So, now they’ve gone to decision by committee too.”

Now, I’m not sure if this is necessarily a committee decision, but I do find it intriguing that the two leading design thinking have created their own crowdsourcing pages. IDEO has developed OpenIDEO and there’s the FrogMob from Frog Design.

Their approaches to crowdsourcing are different. Frog is using the collective to create the world’s largest set of “ethnographers.” They’re opening up their research process to “see what they can’t see on their own.” I assume with the goal that this will help produce a better end deliverable. The challenge becomes who edits the mob?

OpenIDEO is a bit more expansive. It takes the crowd through 3 1/2 stages of creative development: Inspiration, conception, refinement (that’s the 1/2) and evaluation. Members of the crowd can find out how the quality of their participation via their Design Quotient (DQ). And they’re tackling big issues like Jamie Oliver’s project to make kids aware of more healthy food options.

I prefer Frog’s method of leveraging the crowd as a research resource. OpenIDEO seems a bit more on the promotional side and I was a bit thrown off on IDEO’s site since “bulldogmi” was taken as a username. The latter fact is crazy...there is only one bulldogmi.

In the end, they both show the importance for companies to become aggregators of the crowd. Is crowdsourcing, just the buzzword du jour or is it something that can truly be effective?