Posts Tagged ‘Crowdsourcing’

What’s an LOL worth?

Clay Shirky gave his great talk about cognitive surplus on TED Talks recently. His definition of “cognitive surplus” is shared online work that people do with “spare” brain cycles. Things like editing Wikipedia- things that build a better world, using the collaboration of many to improve things. (Very generally) Shirky says we are driven to “engagement” (editing a Wikipedia page) rather than “consumption” (watching TV) because of intrinsic motivation.

In seemingly unrelated news, Improv Everywhere, the undercover comedy agents who “cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places,” released a new video yesterday- a reenactment of a scene between Darth Vader and Princess Leia…but on a New York City subway car.

I love Improv Everywhere. I love them because they put something magical and unexpected in front of an audience that only expects the mundane…and they change the rest of the day for those people. They take what is normal and they transform it- they mix and match things and places we know with things and places that don’t belong there. And it is 100% positive and affirming humor. There is only joy in their performance- a performance that depends upon the reaction of the audience as validation that they are part of something special that is happening, right now.

And right now their performances are important, because I think we all have a great deal of in-person emotional surplus. The cognitive surplus that Shirky talks about is important- it’s people generously giving their time and effort to help build something that makes the world better. And we feel rewarded. But at the same time, I think the reward we feel from those interactions is less rewarding than the reward of in-person generosity and engagement. We are becoming more accustomed to online stimuli as a means of emotional fuel but like a drug, the high is less and less each time and more and more online stimuli is needed. The reason is that online tribes can’t replace in-person ones.

This isn’t a ding on the internet! Obviously, I’m a heavy user, and the positives associated with the online communities we’ve built are incredible. But I think dependence on these interactions have left us craving personal interactions. Our cognitive surplus can leave an emotional gap if we’re not careful. People want to react positively to something real. We want to laugh with a stranger. We want to connect on a subway. Humans used to have a tribe of 150 people that we saw everyday, that we laughed with everday. We now have much larger tribes- but how many of those people do we laugh with in-person on a daily basis? What’s an LOL worth?

So maybe we crave these personal interactions. And isn’t THIS a great way to have them?

Guest Blogger: Kyle Hawke of Whinot on” Top 5 Questions that Kill Innovation”

Kyle Hawke, an MBA colleague at Darden, has just gone live with the platform for the company he founded – the very cool, which, “Provides a crowdsourcing process and web platform for SMB’s to identify and reward only realizable solutions to their operational and organizational issues. Whinot also provides a marketplace for freelance consultants to sell or share existing solutions and find consulting opportunities.”

It’s a very cool idea, and I’ve already put my profile on there- learn more and build your profile here.

To celebrate his launch, I’m republishing (with his permission), a well-thought out (and crowdsourced!) blog post Kyle had earlier this month on “The Top 5 Questions that Kill Innovation.” His blog post is the section between ***** below:


Flowing from a recent article in the Harvard Business Review titled, “How to Kill Innovation: Keep Asking Questions”, I asked a question in a few LinkedIn groups to get a response to the following question:

What’s the #1 question that kills innovation?

This simple question generated about 30 responses in three communities: Whinot, Consultants Network, and Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing. This post is an attempt to pull out the themes and highlights from those discussions. In other words, this blog post is crowdsourced.

1) “Did you get management approval?” This came up a variety of ways, but the main point is that the organization itself (or the people leading it) can kill an innovation. One good example of this is organizations which (unintentionally or not) lead innovators to have a sense of fear of failure.

2) “How much does it cost?” or “Will it make money?” For even the best project managers, it is nearly impossible to accurately assign financial metrics such as ROI or NPV to an innovation. For some innovation, especially for breakthrough (rather than incremental) innovations, you have to ask yourself how heavily should these SWAGs should be weighted in the decision.

3) “How long will it take?” Certain industries and certain innovations require a long, laborious road to market. Industry certification or government regulation may slow down this process. For the innovation owner or other stakeholders involved, stalled progress or lack of momentum can be demotivating. Communication of regular status updates should be the norm during this period.

4) “Can I get it in writing?” Too often, putting something “in writing”, just makes it easier to “file away.” But when something is put in writing, it should be done with brevity and concision. It should fit on one page. A recent blog post on reiterated this same point as it relates to business plans.

5) “Do we have the bandwidth?” There may be a variety of resource constraints (e.g. human, capital) preventing an organization from pursuing every opportunity that comes its way. That’s fine. But the key is to achieve a well-balanced portfolio of projects – some easy, some harder, some incremental, some breakthrough. If a must-have project comes along, consider alleviating the constraint by pursuing it in an open manner – through an external partnership, through acquisition rather than organic growth, or through the use of contract/freelance labor rather than full-time employees.

Throughout the discussions, I had my virtual hand slapped for thinking about this question with negative overtones (e.g. killing innovation rather than promoting it). These points are well-taken. And they lead to the final, most important point that was voiced by several people in the discussions:

No matter what the question, it is up to the innovation owner to be ready and able to answer them – clearly, concisely and effectively. Organizational change does not come easy and it does not come cheap. A strong and convincing owner is just as important as the innovation itself.

Thank you to all of those who helped crowdsource this blog post: Andrew Blair, Kevin Skislock, John Heun, Brian Waechter, David Albachten, Ann McLennan, Mike Buckley-Jones, Allan Edun, Ray Joseph, Sirisha Panchangam, Ed Kislauskis, Mark Liao, Randy Van Heusden, Patricia Duarte, Chris Hughbanks, Lars Dalen, John Michitson, Kevin Skislock, Lawrence Lau, Gary Oosta, Johan Oelofse, Koos Ris, Marc Hirsch, Detlef La Grand, and Karen Wong.


Thanks for the post Kyle and good luck with Whinot! I’m looking forward to hopefully contributing as a freelance consultant!