Problem

Crowdsourcing

Obtain input to a project from a large group of undefined people

Illustration of Crowdsourcing

Also called: Crowdsearching, Crowdtesting

See also: Collect Pre-orders, Crowdfunding

Difficulty: Intermediate

Strength of evidence
40

Relevant metrics: Comments, Conversions

Validates: Feasibility, Desirability

How: Solicit contributions from an undefined public through external communities, rather than from existing employees or specific pre-contracted suppliers.

Why: Crowdsourcing decreases risk by increasing attempts. Tap into a diversity of skills and amount of labor you don't possess and do so with significantly less cost and risk than making additional hires. With crowdsourcing, you pay for the solutions, not the effort – the marketplace bears the cost of failure, not you.

This card is part of the Validation Patterns printed card deck

A collection of 60 product experiments that will validate your idea in a matter of days, not months. They are regularly used by product builders at companies like Google, Facebook, Dropbox, and Amazon.

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Before the experiment

The first thing to do when planning any kind of test or experiment, is to figure out what you want to test. To make critical assumptions explicit, fill out an experiment sheet as you prepare your test. We created a sample sheet for you to get started. Download the Experiment Sheet.

Crowdsourcing decreases risk by increasing attempts

With the help of crowdsourcing, companies can have more tries at nailing product-market fit than they would have if they had only relied on their own internal product development lifecycle. By bringing in a larger volume of ideas down the innovation funnel at a higher pace than regular internal product development, chances of success are increased. Risk of not discovering a product fit for the market is decreased.

How crowdsouricng can help foster innovation

You can utilize crowdsourcing at all steps of the product development lifecycle. A few examples are:

  • To create new ideas for new product offerings (from internal and external crowds)
  • To create the best prototype that fulfills a product vision or idea
  • To develop and execute the best core product experience
  • To user test the final solution (with both internal and external crowds)
  • To produce material needed for problem-solution fit (for example the Facebook 10-year challenge helped create material for face-recognition across ages)
  • To produce content (for example when facebook asked users to translate its user interface)
  • To come up with the best marketing campaign

After the experiment

To make sure you move forward, it is a good idea to systematically record your the insights you learned and what actions or decisions follow. We created a sample Learning Sheet, that will help you capture insights in the process of turning your product ideas successful. Download the Learning Sheet.

Examples

Threadless

At Threadless, T-shirt designs are all submitted by members of the community. They submit designs, vote and the ones who get the most votes get produced. Co-founder, Jake Nickell, created the community to solve a problem first and foremost: to see the great artists’ work go from the screen and onto something tangible.

They started with one contest, which was a hit. As they held more contests, their community of artists grew as well, eventually into the thousands.

Source: How to start a business without really trying

Duolingo

Duolingo help customers learn a new language for free, but in reality the platform crowdsources translation of commercial texts (books, etc.) from one language to another.

Source: Crowdsourcing Capitalists: How Duolingo's Founders Offered Free Education To Millions

Coca Cola

Marketers at Coca-Cola regularly crowdsource ideas for campaigns and their production - notably for social media and hashtags for content and ideas for “Where Will Happiness Strike Next?”.

Source: Crowdsourcing Happiness: The Smile Backstory

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