November 19, 2020 Turning Crowdsourcing Detractors into Open Talent Believers with Gavin McClafferty

The Uprisor podcast brings a series of engaging Future of Work conversations crafted for enterprise leaders and doers. On this episode, Gavin McLafferty, founder of innovation consultancy 1981 Ventures, shares his experience using open talent models to solve problems in the oil and gas and renewables market.

Gavin and Topcoder VP Clinton Bonner discuss how open talent gives you flexibility, the cost of not taking chances, and tactics to turn crowdsourcing skeptics into enthusiastic proponents. Listen below, and read on for the brightest moments from their conversation.


Gavin has an extensive track record leading open innovation challenges, confidential technology search projects, and internal challenges throughout his career. Public challenges bring in new perspectives and new thinking, but some business areas have more concerns around privacy and protecting commercial interests. In those cases, Gavin will conduct a confidential technology search project aimed at acquiring certain pieces of technology or gaining new insight into the progression of tech across industries.

By utilizing different talent models for different goals, Gavin has been able to maximize results for his clients. This is an important component of his strategy’s success: Different problems require different solutions, and innovation is never one-size-fits-all. The flexibility of the open innovation model allows Gavin and his team to tailor their response to the situation at hand.

The Greatest Risk of All? Doing Nothing

Getting an organization—especially a large, multinational firm—to embrace open talent solutions can be difficult. There will always be those resistant to change. Upending the status quo can be seen as an unnecessarily risky move, particularly if a business is already successful.

For those detractors worried about the risks of bringing in external talent or sharing IP in a crowdsourced challenge, McClafferty likes to flip the framework. In today’s world where companies need to adapt constantly or be left behind, the biggest risk is doing nothing. The cost of not innovating is losing market share or even ceasing to exist altogether.

As Wayne Gretzky famously said, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. Through crowdsourcing, you get orders of magnitude and more shots on net. This allows not just for the incremental improvements most organizations already do well, but for more significant, moonshot-type shifts to occur.

“We’re interested in 10x improvements, not 10%.” – Gavin McClafferty

Enhancing—Not Replacing—Your In-House Talent

Another fear that open talent naysayers may have? Being replaced or rendered obsolete. As Gavin shares, though, it is in fact the opposite that is true. Open innovation enhances an employee’s capabilities, allowing them to do more in less time and spend their energy where it will add the most value.

Time is increasingly becoming our most valuable currency, and, when you’re able to collapse timeframes to see massive improvements on an accelerated scale, that frees you up to do more: to add new features to a product or to innovate further with new capabilities in a new area. It is the employees and teams who recognize this and take advantage of all the tools in their toolbox—including the power of the crowd and open innovation—that will ultimately pull ahead both in the organization and in the market at large.

Gavin was able to demonstrate this to some of the more resistant groups by showing the results he’d achieved with other teams. When initial detractors saw the incredible rate of progress that was possible, they came on board and became some of the strongest proponents of open innovation. Open talent models allow an organization to use their human capital in the most efficient and rewarding way, which improves not only the immediate results but sets them up for long-success as well—and that’s something early adopters and naysayers alike can appreciate.

Ready to start harnessing the power of on demand talent in your own team? Contact us today.

VP, Marketing


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