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POPin Blog

Creating Buy-in with Anonymous Crowdsolving

By now, most folks get the concept of crowdsourcing in which each person’s contribution is combined with those of others to achieve a cumulative goal. Probably the best-known example involves crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, where users solicit funding from crowds to finance specific projects. Other variations on crowdsourcing involve online communities where users solicit contributions from large groups of people for needed services, ideas or content, rather than money. Wikipedia is a great example of this. Sometimes crowdsourcing takes the form of an innovation competition or an idea contest. In other cases, crowdsourcing involves large numbers of paid people who perform rote tasks in parallel in order to complete one piece of a larger federated project. Here we should distinguish crowdsourcing from crowdsolving, which involves the collaboration of many people to solve a mutual problem. Enterprise software such as Yammer and Jive offer platforms for team collaboration and communication, yet they were not designed to specifically root out organizational problems and propose workable solutions. That’s where new crowdsolving tools can really help. Pulse surveys are useful for getting answers from team members, yet surveys are not effective for creating buy-in from the people in the trenches. It’s also difficult for leaders to capture the real truth from survey results, because telling the truth can be career-limiting in organizations that protect the status quo. Employees who rock the boat or push back against orthodoxy with their survey responses may jeopardize their career advancement, so they stay silent about the most important issues that could actually solve the problem. Hence the need for anonymity to encourage honest answers without any fear of reprimand. Crowdsolving platforms that protect anonymity can make it safe for the workforce to tell leaders why something will or will not work, even if their answers create uneasiness. Only in this way can leaders determine what’s really going on inside the organization. Apart from identifying actual concerns, the ultimate benefit of anonymous crowdsourcing is the creation of buy-in which is achieved by putting the uncomfortable problem that’s been identified back onto the employees to solve themselves. Employee buy-in results from the people in the trenches lifting their voices together and sharing authorship for the solution. This entire process demonstrates management’s willingness to trust the team’s views and ideas. We should recognize that those who do the work usually know the real truth of the matter, but it often isn’t safe for them to tell management. With anonymous crowdsolving, managers can quickly implement decisions from the team while creating authentic buy-in because team members can finally be open and honest about their true insights.