Core elements of fair innovation processes

The successful and sustainable involvement of external innovators requires fair and transparent framework conditions and appropriate recognition of the contribution to the competitive advantage achieved.

The most important elements here are:

1. Transparent communication: Clear and transparent communication is the fundamental requirement for any successful co-creation project. Businesses need to consider this aspect when designing the platform, the underlying processes and later in active operation, and to communicate openly. How will competition winners be selected? What are the evaluation criteria? What type of contributions do you want to receive from participants? What is the role of experts on the platform and on what basis does the jury make its decision? What happens to ideas when the active phase is over? These are all questions that businesses need to communicate clearly.

2. Swift interaction: Most crowdsourcing projects take place online and on social media platforms. The speed of interaction anticipated by users is very dynamic and requires an immediate response from the business. In cases of doubt, even outside the usual business hours. A question that remains unanswered or answers that take weeks to compile will result in community members losing interest.

3. Sincere conduct: To ensure that participants do not feel exploited, the business’s intention and associated communication needs to be absolutely sincere. This can be achieved, for example, by the presence of an organisation’s employees on the platform, a top-class jury and through explicitly formulated implementation pledges. To “abuse” innovation competitions purely for marketing purposes would be foolish.

4. Genuine appreciation: To ensure that (potential) participants regard a crowdsourcing platform as fair, genuine appreciation of members and their contributions is essential. This begins with motivating comments by community members or the community manager and continues with the selection of appropriate awards through to realistic implementation pledges or subsequent revenue shares.

5. Adequate support: The fifth point is fundamental. By opening the business’s borders and through virtual cooperation, (hierarchical) borders between the business and its users and customers are removed. Strictly speaking, both sides on a co-creation platform must feel equal. As a result, there should also be scope and space for spontaneous needs in the community, to enable the development of a fruitful discussion and longer-term networking. So, for example, tips on technical, content-related or communication-related improvement options from the community should not only be taken on board, but also implemented as soon as possible.


This text is an extract from: Füller, J., 27 June 2012, “Die Gefahren des Crowdsourcing”

(With the kind permission of Prof. Füller.)