Why crowdsourcing and open innovation are not the same thing – or how to not end up with Boaty McBoatFace

by Cecilia Thirlway, on 1 Apr 2016 1 min read

Boaty McBoatface

You can’t have missed the recent Boaty McBoatface episode – but if you’ve been under a rock for the last few weeks, you can read about it here.According to some pundits, the whole thing is proof that no good can come of crowdsourcing, with The Drum putting together a little list of past crowdsourcing debacles.

We read about this with interest as we find that crowdsourcing and open innovation are often described in very similar ways: so how do we at Solverboard make sure that none of our Challengers end up with Boaty McBoatFace?

Luckily, while open innovation does harness the power of the crowd, there are a few crucial differences between it and crowdsourcing:

  1. Vested interests – the people voting for Boaty McBoatFace had no interest in the outcome beyond having a giggle, and nothing to lose. Open innovation rewards both Challengers and Solvers for doing the job properly.
  2. Who gets to decide? – The vote made it look as though the final decision rested with the public, which clearly let the power go to its head (although in fact NERC retained the right to have the final say over the name). At Solverboard, our Challengers always have the last word about the winning Solution, even in Open Assessment situations.
  3. Where’s the value? - The boat’s name has no real value to either NERC or the great British public, and a daft name takes seconds to dream up, hence the number of silly suggestions they received. On Solverboard, solutions are the product of Solvers’ hard work and creativity and solve real problems for the Challengers, so are valued accordingly.

Let’s face it - if it hadn’t been for the suggestion of Boaty McBoatface, very few people would have even heard of the poll, let alone taken part. It’s almost as if the whole point was to earn some publicity…..

Topics:Creative ThinkingInnovation ConversationsOpen Innovation