The so-called Smart Crowdsourcing sets itself apart from previous crowdsourcing by limiting the number of participants, filtering them by qualitative criteria, namely their expertise. This is to avoid massive contributions that take too much time and money to filter, and leaves potential participants who are not expected to bring in contributions with the needed quality standards apart. To connect with the desired expert contributors, professional networks, such as professional associations, academic research groups or LinkedIn groups, can be used. Another option is to use internet search motors with keywords related to the innovation project. The challenge is to balance the need for relevant expertise with the chances of obtaining out of the box solutions and lateral thinking shortcuts, which are more likely to come from innovators working in other industries.

There are two options to take into account with this approach:

  • Overt Crowdsourcing allows contributors to see and comment on other participants’ contributions, and in some cases also to vote their ideas. This can enrich the idea generation process, but it can also create groupthink, i.e. individuals’ tendency to converge to a few ideas in accordance to group leaders’ way of thinking, and thus minimize dissent, diversity of ideas and original ways of thinking. It may also facilitate the collection of ideas by competitors.
  • Covert Crowdsourcing does not allow contributors to see other participants’ ideas, and so favors independent thinking, avoids groupthink syndrome and crowd-killing of ideas in the early stage of development. It also avoids the risk of competitors taking advantage of the generated ideas, as these are voted by company employees or executives only. However, it misses the potential of idea generation and refinement inspired by others’ contributions.

Finally, it is possible to include some other approaches originally related to technological developments but progressively used in other fields, which match only with the free idea generation – not responding to a challenge brief by a company – and driven by the innovators initiative, of which some companies may wish to take advantage, attending to see if any of the exposed ideas suits their businesses. There are many approaches to this model:

  • Bar Camps are gatherings of innovators or developers organized by themselves where they expose their latest works and ideas and set their presentation timing in a free timetable.
  • Lightning talks work like Bar Camps, but take place during a conference that participants are attending, becoming micro-alternative rounds of presentations, parallel to the main event. They set timings between 15 to 20 minutes for every presentation.
  • Open Space Technology (OST) are dynamic meetings led by a facilitator, where participants elaborate the sessions agenda where the discussion groups will be generated and participants are free to move from one group to another. This takes place when there is an issue that raises interest amongst many people, but the issue is not possible to tackle on an individual basis, and so cooperation between many participants is needed in the short-term. Once the agenda is organized, every participant gives a speech and moderates the debate on the presented issue.

These kinds of events are mainly to invigorate the informal exchange of knowledge and ideas, as well as to wire innovators’ networks. They usually entail a great deal of online information to be shared previous to the event, during the event and also afterwards. These events are appropriate in the stage when the stakeholder community has adopted the culture of collaboration and innovation and feels empowered to take the lead in these matters.

This article is from the White Paper “Envisioning Open Innovation in Destinations”, available for download in

Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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