It’s about the crowd, stupid.


I personally cannot participate in another conversation regarding “a seat at the table” without putting a fork in my eye, but I do want to say this…

I think that the work of Human Resources needs to change…a lot. Not because other people at home in their pajamas, typing on their computers say so, but because how value is created has changed and how we do work and organize resources needs to change.

I apparently know very little about Human Resources because everyone else it seems is talking about processes and software and compliance and I care very little about any of that. I care about our ability to fully realize the potential of the “human resources” we bring into our organizations. If there is software that does that, kick ass, everyone should go buy some immediately.

If not…those of us that work in and around the discipline of Human Resources should be relentlessly rubbing our brains together to do a better job of setting talent free…of getting more value out of the intellectual, aspirational, experiential and relational capital that exists in our workforce. I truly believe that we are literally drowning in un-utilized and under-utilized “human resources.”

Crowdsourcing may very well be part of the solution. Crowdsourcing (much like Web 2.0) is being talked about by a lot of, lot of, lot of, lot of people right now, and we do not want to confuse popularity for value, but (also like Web 2.) crowdsourcing appears to be potentially very valuable to Human Resource work…because it is about people.

Crowdsourcing (like Web 2.0) means slightly different things to different people and is still being defined and framed. Wikipedia says this:

Crowdsourcing is a distributed problem-solving and production model. Problems are broadcast to an unknown group of solvers in the form of an open call for solutions. Users–also known as the crowd–typically form into online communities, and the crowd submits solutions. The crowd also sorts through the solutions, finding the best ones. These best solutions are then owned by the entity that broadcast the problem in the first place–the crowdsourcer–and the winning individuals in the crowd are sometimes rewarded. In some cases, this labor is well compensated, either monetarily, with prizes, or with recognition.

Procter and Gamble, Threadless and Innocentive are often pointed to as examples of how and why crowdsourcing works…but these and most other examples out there are using crowdsourcing in marketing, and research and development.

I believe that Human Resource professionals can champion crowdsourcing within their organization to be used in marketing and R&D efforts for starters. But the pressing issue for us is, this… is crowdsourcing something that we can and will apply to Human Resources work. Can we use it for:

  • identifying and attracting talent
  • increasing innovation
  • increasing employee engagement
  • improving organizational culture
  • reducing bad turnover
  • professional and career development
  • employee wellness and balance
  • feedback and evaluation
  • strategic planning
  • development of compensation and benefit plans
  • change management
  • policy review

I think it offers a great deal of potential for many of these areas, but there is some conversation to be had about the “how.” I think this is an issue that we can spend some time exploring, and I am interested to hear what you (and others) might have to say.


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