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When Beginning in Crowdsourcing and Open Innovation Can Be as Easy as Playing Board Games

By cbonner In Innovation Tales

Posted April 22nd, 2014

We know what you’re thinking. Great, another ‘puff piece’ on the ‘wisdom of crowds’ and how all we need to do is post our toughest problem, put up a million bucks, and voila, some genius will heroically swoop from the outskirts of an ‘amalgamous’ community and deliver to us a genius solution that forever changes the trajectory of our enterprise!!!

Yeah, it most often doesn’t work that way, and crowdsourcing certainly does not scale that way for the enterprise. It’s actually much less ‘daring’ than the faux example given above. It’s more about predictability than anything else actually. When you have enough, hyper-specifically talented individuals around a certain task, or component of work and you know their reliability as it pertains to their likelihood to compete based on their historical record; it’s then that you find yourself in the position to take more risk and try more brazen ‘things’ through crowdsourcing. What types of things might you ask?

In late March we introduced the concept of a 24hr LUX or Live UX design challenge where we would gather inputs live on-stage and launch a challenge there and then; with the purpose of showcasing the outputs 24 hours later. Please, take a moment and view the stunning results of this first LUX challenge. Our team wanted to take this to another level, so at the recent Marcus Evans Open Innovation forum, we hosted a 2-hour workshop on Day 1 and decided in order to make this fun for the participants, we’d play games, classic games of skill, luck, and knowledge!

All in all, we played 4 different classic games (or perhaps better stated, truncated versions of games we all know). We started with a Pictionary tournament, rolled into a racing game played on the iconic backdrop of the Monopoly board, then had some fun with Balderdash (the “lying” game that uses creative wit, deception, and guessing!), and wrapped things up with a fast Jeopardy-like trivia game.

The outputs from the games, became the inputs to what would be a 24 hour LUX (Live UX) mobile design challenge we would put to our [topcoder] Studio Design community.

The ‘winning’ Pictionary drawing would be the inspiration for the logo the community was asked to create as part of this mobile UX design challenge. This ‘thing of beauty’ was the actual input 🙂

The Wheelbarrow took home the Monopoly ‘race’ and that meant we’d be telling our community that the app we’d like them to design to would be an augmented reality gardening application. Something that easily allowed a homeowner to drag and drop in various plants, trees and more to build out their projects and virtually landscape with ease.

The game of Balderdash helped us decide the color scheme for the app. The green team dominated the ‘creative lying’ exercise so green became the predominant color scheme the designers would need to use in their app design. This was actually quite serendipitous considering the app was to be a gardening app. Chock that one up to good luck!

Finally, our teams played a good old game of movie trivia that had a “Final Jeopardy” like conclusion. Since it was movie trivia, we asked each team to pick a movie that best represented their group. The winners of this round were inspired by none other than Despicable Me! So, that meant our designers needed to find a creative way to incorporate the movie characters into the fabric of the designed application.

With these non-traditionally gathered inputs, we then live-launched our mobile UX design challenge. So what did our community come up with in 24 hours time? Have a look:

One of our goals in continually showcasing the uses of crowdsourcing and open innovation is to demystify the notion that getting going is some major task unto itself. Yes, of course, preparing your internal teams for success and getting them ramped and educated on how to use a community like Topcoder does take forethought. But as this demonstration showcased, you do not have to know beforehand every detail you want to see created in order to get some amazing looks and feels going right now. When speed is part of the objective, we encourage you to get going and allow theTopcoder community members to surprise you with their ideas and submissions. Now, does that mean you too should play board games in order to figure out the inputs?… Hey, we’ll leave that up to you.