How can entrepreneurs motivate solvers in a crowdsourcing network?

Mario HonrubiaCrowdsourcingInnovation

Crowdsourcing is probably one of the best ways to access a global network of talented people and to channel their talent and creative effort towards a useful cause. This is especially true for for entrepreneurs who may have limited resources during the start-up phase of their business and may be attracted to crowdsourcing as a means to access funding or knowledge. The issue of motivation for the participants in a crowdsourcing network still remains an issue: Whether you are a network operator or a company launching a challenge, you need to make sure you get as many people to join but more importantly you should motivate them to work towards the cause. From observing the performance of several successful case studies such as Quirky and few other conventional companies, here is what we have learned about the elements entrepreneurs or companies should think about for motivating a crowd: 1. Think about the geographical and cultural differences of your crowd Crowdsourcing usually attracts individuals located in different countries with different cultures. By understanding the mix of the crowd, entrepreneurs and managers can identify and select the right motivational drivers. For example, certain members of the crowd based out of Western Europe might be motivated by getting a chance to improve their reputation among their peers. On the other hand in some other countries members might be motivated more with monetary award. 2. Offer a mix and learn by doing It's nearly impossible to get it right the first time. In reality many companies start by a given mix of incentives and learn and improve along the way. A classic example of this is Lufthansa's Air Cargo Innovation Challenge for Customer Service. The company was looking for creative ideas about the future form and function of customer service and in order to motivate the crowd it offered three different prizes including training in a flight simulator at the Frankfurt International Airport and different amounts of air miles. The prize-set had some sort of a balance to motivate people with different incentives/needs. 3. Money is not everything! Although cash prizes have traditionally been a popular or sole means of motivation in many crowdsourcing networks, increasingly we have seen efforts to include soft  factors such as reputation and sense of community to motivate solvers. Quirky is a great example of this: The New York-based company dedicates a lot of effort in nurturing its "Inventor Community" and create the feeling that all members are part of a family. Needless to say, Quirky's motivated crowd has been influential in designing +100 products in only couple of years since company's inception. Successful motivation of a crowd will increase the likelihood of success with crowdsourciing contests and will provide companies with a way to solve significant challenge...So, let's take it seriously!
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