Three Lessons from Kickstarter for Crowdsourcing Ideas

The website Kickstarter has proven itself to be an amazing example of how an individual’s idea can grow into something big and successful. This crowdfunding giant has enjoyed well over 1 billion dollars in pledges, has successfully funded over 70,000 projects, and has almost 7 million backers (that is like the entire city of London supporting the site!).

While we would like to think that this level of accomplishment is extraordinary, there is no real secret behind this website’s success. Kickstarter has imparted three key lessons that any organization can take to heart when it comes to crowdsourcing ideas from their employees.

Lesson One: Let Transparency Be Your Guide

One common theme that runs amongst successful Kickstarter campaigns, whether the project be to produce a movie or to create an entirely new product, is that the creators of the campaign are incredibly transparent and almost painfully specific. You can expect to find:

  • Thoughtful and well-planned delivery schedules
  • Descriptive product features
  • Images (including prototypes or drawn plans)
  • Reward systems

By being transparent when crowdsourcing, these campaigners are fostering trust in their pledges. Your employees want to exist in a similar environment where they fully understand where their leaders are coming from and why “x” decision was made at “y” time. Organizations can start to almost immediately boost their ability to crowdsource quality ideas simply by responding to them.

Not every idea will be a good one, but by showing your employees that you have thought about and evaluated the idea, as well as explain why or why not the idea is feasible, your staff will feel valued and will be more likely to continue to provide you with fresh ideas.

Lesson Two: Appreciate Your Supporters

On the Kickstarter website, individuals can choose to pledge as much or as little as they woud like. Projects that are the most successful feature tiered pledges where, if you choose to pledge a certain amount, you will receive a reward from the project team.

Recognition is key when it comes to encouraging your employees to continue to share their insight on how to make the workplace better. Showing your appreciation also tells the employee that you have received their idea, that it is being considered, and you are then ultimately are reinvigorating engagement levels within your organization with these 4 techniques for recognizing employees.

If you are short on ideas, put you crowdsourcing tactics to practice and ask your employees for their input!

Lesson Three: Build a Community

It is no secret that everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves, which is part of why Kickstarter has become such a successful endeavour. As Amanda Palmer, who rallied twenty-five thousand Kickstarter backers to support her album, book, and tour once said, “There’s just something magical about Kickstarter… You immediately feel like you’re part of a larger club of art-supporting fanatics.”

There is no shortage of ideas in most organizations. Where the challenge lies is in receiving insightful, high quality ideas that are feasible enough to be implemented. Rather than leave the idea pipeline open-ended, frame the scope of your discussion. Provide your employees with guidance and update them regularly on the progression of an idea. Share the story about the process behind the idea and celebrate your successes. You’ll eventually build a momentum that will create a constant organization-wide flow of great concepts and achievable plans.

image credit: TechCrunch

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Jacqueline Zhou




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