Serendipity occurs when you least expect it. At least it does for me. My most recent ‘A Ha’ moment came after reading two very different articles one after another.
The first was the results of a McKinsey Global Survey about How Businesses Are Using Web2.0. Despite all of the discussion about Web2.0, most companies are still in the starting gates when it comes to Web2.0 market-facing tools like mash-ups, blogs, wikis and podcasts. But many of the same companies have been using Web2.0 collaboration tools like web services, collective intelligence and peer-to-peer networking for some time. And with great success. Companies like Procter & Gamble with its Connect + Develop programme that brings suppliers together, Eli Lilly with its Innocentive that brings researchers together and even Dell with its IdeaStorm programme that brings customers (and their ideas) inside Dell. The survey shows very clearly that the best ideas often come from outside the boundaries of companies and that Web2.0 collaboration tools can help enormously in bringing the ideas inside.
The second was the latest Mauboussin on Strategy article Explaining the Wisdom of Crowds. Ever since James Surowiecki wrote his The Wisdom of Crowds book, the idea that (cognitively) diverse crowds can in some circumstances be much smarter than the most brilliant experts has sparked heated discussion. In particular, there has been an often emotional backlash from experts seeking to defend their status as experts! The article cuts through all the emotional baggage to identify three types of problem where crowds frequently outperform experts. The first is looking for specific pieces of information that someone knows, but where you don’t know who. The second is estimating something where nobody knows the real answer. Like guessing the number of jelly beans in a jar. The final problem is predicting what will happen in the future. Like who will win the forthcoming French Presidential election. Mauboussin shows using the Diversity Prediction Theorem why crowds frequently outperform experts in problems of these types. Business face problems like these all the time; when searching for new chemical formulations, when estimating the size of a new market and when developing marketing strategies.
The moment of serendipity came with the realisation that the answers to many business – and CRMGuru – questions lie not within their walls but outside. With customers, partners and suppliers. With people like YOU. As many businesses are finding out, reaching out with Web2.0 collaboration tools to people like you can pay real dividends in customer-driven innovation, in word-of-mouth marketing, in self-configured sales and in customer-self-service.
So next time you look at a blog posting written by a CRMGuru like myself, ask yourself a question. “Do I know better?”. If you do, be sure to let us know. After all, CRMGuru is as much about you the reader, than it is about we the CRMGurus.
What do you think? Do YOU know better than the CRMGurus? Or are you just hiding your light under a bushel?
Post a comment and get the conversation going.