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Friday, November 17

Crowdcasting - The Wisdom Of Crowds

In the latest issue of Business 2.0, came across this new concept - Crowdcasting! Actually, a while ago in his best-selling book, The Wisdom of Crowds James Surowiecki had explored a deceptively simple idea that has profound implications - 'Large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant/ better the elite are at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future! 'Crowdcasting' is the real life application of the wisdom of crowds!

Companies like Amex, Whirlpool, GE Money and Mars are now occasionaly turning to B-School students to come up with innovative products and services by solving real world problems.

I think for a talent starved industry like advertising, 'Crowdcasting' is an excellent tool to plug into some of the youngest and brightest minds of India!

Even if we can't afford the IIM grads, maybe we can get some of them to solve our brand/ strategy/ agency problems.

In fact, for smaller agencies, it's a very effective and cheap alternative to say a large sized planning department, without sacrificing the quality of strategic thought. What say?

As we go into the future, we do not just need 30 sec TVCs and print ideas. We need a whole host of ideas - big and small across the internet. mobile and other emerging media space!

And bright minds who also are early adopters of the products and services would make great idea-founts.

At David, I have been using 'Crowdcasting' in a minor way! Ocassionaly I dip into the intelligence of young students. They have helped me mine insights, helped in new business pitches, served as virtual-planners, jointly built content which I have used in new business pitches...

And quite often, even the agency employees cannot match the content as well as the energy levels of these 'crowdcasters'.

Lets be ready for the future. As Business 2.0 said - "Turning one's business problems over to outsiders scares the shit out of most business leaders because it challenges the power base of individuals within the company. But that's exactly what needs to happen for a company/ industry to grow and change with the times".

If ideas had a valence level I would give 'Crowdcasting' 10 points! Same as this year's Grand Effie(India) winner Lifebuoy Little Gandhi campaign!


pooR_Planner said...

Actually, it makes great sense to use young, innocent minds to solve a real life business problem. Often the ideas, insights, innovations that these young crowds come with blows our (professionals) mind. They are our future and they are the consumers companies will be talking too in time to come. So bringing them into the fold of solving a brands problem does immense help not only to the company but becomes a way of Connection. We often miss out on this connection planning.

I think I should take your advice and get more young people to visit our office on weekends, allowing them to solve problems in a fun session.

Little Gandhi is an excellent campaign. All kudos to Lowe.

Manish said...

Is little gandhi an 'imported concept'? like 'daag acche hain' a translation of 'dirt is good' and even the 'axe academy' work?

ask a friend at Lowe? mail me some interesting week-end reading...

pooR_Planner said...

I think it's an indigenous Indian idea. Anyways need to clarify the same to be doubly sure.

Hmmm...read this hilarious book by Pratik Basu called 'Clueless & Co." better watch this movie called "Other Side of Bed" a spanish sex comedy, swear you will have a good laugh.

Read my new post at http://tissue-issues.blogspot.com some risky ideas i have put...lol.

Heather said...

Little Gandhi isn't actually an imported concept, unlike say Axe or Daag Acche hai. the latter two are examples of strategies developed centrally and executed locally, but Lifebuoy brand is actually run out of India for most of the world, as so the thinking is all home grown. Which makes a nice change! I have three effies sitting on my bokshelf as I write ... what a shame I have to take them to the office tomorrow and redistribute them to their rightful owners!!

Manish said...

hey thanks and congrats Heather! i feel 'Lil Gandhi' should also have won the 'Yahoo Big Idea Chair'...

jigs said...

blame my marketing + sales + copywriter intellect. But isn't crowdcasting in a way similar to having a focus group? If yes, then this only seems to be a fancy name to an existing concept.

Now i'm guessing it's not and u will hv to fill me in on this one in office tom.

Manish said...

hey jigs, you are not the first one to ask this question. another friend of mine thinks this is just a fanciful term!

however, i feel 'CC' is more than just an FGD.

1. for starters most FGDs are centred around problems of the client brands...in CC you seek answers to the company/ agency problems as well.

2. Most FGDs( unless you interview creative consumers or prosumers) involve hurriedly selected 6-8 people who may not have the insight, intelligence or the understanding to give meaningful answers...They are mostly lab rats, wanting to give a few smart ansewrs and then go home early:-)

Crowd Casters are bright( often brigher than us), hand-picked, often paid for their services( not just petty gifts) problem solvers. They could be from the best of B schools, or prosumers, or creative consumers or tech-geeks whom we hire( in a way) to solve our problems!

3. Crowdcasters can help us solve foresight problems. A normal FGD can at best give us insights! Although that ability is also seriously undermined in the shoddy, hurried way that they are conducted most often.

4. FGD is a mere not-s0-new research tool. Crowdcasting is about an open source culture!
It's the linux-way of solving company issues, of doing business...It's acknowledgeing humbly that consumers and other people outside the company but within the wider ec-system might have the radical new answers to our problems...

i hope it makes sense. having said that, any new term can be dismissed as mere jargon! ( Often it is exactly that).
But as I have said in some of my posts earlier... the new thinking is more about 'doing stuff' in real time rather than worrying to death about nomenclatures - new and old.

And CC i feel is about 'doing', it's about opening up to new possibilities, new people, new ideas...

Thanks for asking the Q Jigs!

jigs said...

hey man, thanks for the answer...makes a lotta sense...

Am I right in saying that one of the most potent tools for crowd casting is a blog like this?!

Manish said...

hmmm you are getting it:-) ...Yes, a blog like this is a sort of Crowdcasting...

Dharmendra said...

Crowd casting is great. Whether it is a group of colleage students or a group of middle level executives, or a group of actors, sportspersons etc doen not matter.

Yes young students will bring in something new and so will a different set of respondents.

It is important for us to talk to people and listen to them. And this should be a 24x7 activity.

This student bit which is exercised a lot in David is useful and necessary but not sufficient.

Remember it is not always the consumer who shows the way. It is many a times a seasoned dreamer who can forecast what the consumer will want in the future. A person like Bill Gates makes and builds the future environment which is later lapped up by a whole generation.

I agree as part of your planning repetoire crowd casting is important and needs to be regularised into a process. We often have high levels of inertia of rest when it comes to talking to the people on the street or getting them to the office for a fun chat. One has to overcome this and crowdcasting if formalized into a process wil help overcome this inertia.

Looking forward to your reaction and comments.

Perhaps you could help me understand your point of view further.

Divya Pratap said...


Crowdcasting indeed is a brillaint concept. The first time I read wisdom of the crowds I realised that, it could be a secret formula of most succesful people. My sense is collective wisdom weeds out individual weeds of fantasy.

Am back after a long time. Hope you had a good weekend. Cheers

Manish said...

hey dharmendra, you got it ...the essence and the theory!

as for students, it needn't just be young fresh students from the Mumbai colleges. It could be bright IITians, IIM grads - they might charge a bomb( maybe tata can afford them :-)

When I was at TBWA, I actually used the services of an IITian for a new business pitch! And there was learning for both of us.

I agree, CC a 24X7 activity, actually as I said earlier, its a mindset not a fad...

If during our interaction on this blog, I pick up stuff from you...that would also qualify as crowdcasting...

Frankly like you said, if we are open to the street, it works, else everything is a buzz word!

Manish said...

guys, chk this link from HBR...its related to CS in a way!