Open innovation need not always be competitive to incentivize participation. Crowdsourcing can solicit ideas relevant to a particular challenge without declaring any winners or issuing awards, especially when the topic is already well known and of public interest. Crowdsourced innovation can generate individual ideas from a wide range of perspectives. 

Crowdsourcing platforms can also be set up to allow people to collaborate on an answer with minimal support from you, for example as often seen in open-source coding projects. However, without awards, there is less control on eligibility.

In the past years, several government offices globally have successfully utilized crowdsourcing initiatives to solicit citizen’s ideas and insights, with topics ranging from the the redesign of the public space to new legislation.



Suitable Subject Crowdsourcing works best if the subject matter is of broad interest and fairly well known, without requiring specialized knowledge or interest.
Participants Typically there is no eligibility criteria for participation. How easy it is to access the platform for submitting ideas, and how well advertised the event and its purpose are will have a big influence on the resulting participants.
Key Roles Participants: Contribute ideas or solutions based on knowledge & motivation
Administrator: Advertises and promotes the call for participants, set up & manage platform for participation
Moderator Facilitates and mediates participants interaction, encourages further contribution as appropriate
Essential Tools Platform: Means for participants to engage and / or submit ideas (often driven by web-based tools)
Acknowledging contribution & informing participants how the results will be taken forward
Outputs Ideas with varying quality & depth, depending on participants’ knowledge and efforts invested.
Cost & Time Cost: Marketing, managing the crowdsourcing platform, monitoring & choosing, synthesizing useful ideas.
Time: Need to consider at least a few weeks to promote & accept entries, and further time to filter and select ideas and synthesize the outcome.


Problem Framing 

Crowdsourcing works best if the subject matter is of broad interest and fairly well known, without requiring specialized knowledge or interest to be able to contribute ideas.

Discuss and sketch out expectations on the participants, and the quality and quantity of ideas received with your team. Consider what would be innate motivator for participants, such as recognition within the community or acknowledgement.

Crowdsourcing Platform

The success of crowdsourcing depends largely on the platform of soliciting ideas from participants. It is increasingly popular to use online websites or social media as the main platform but there are concerns around digital platforms limiting the participation to a certain demographic group. Accessibility and ease of use is crucial in designing and setting up crowdsourcing platform to avoid biased outcomes.

Promotion for Participation

Consider how to spread the information about the crowdsourcing event in the most effective way, based on characteristics of people who are most likely to contribute.  Consider how to eliminate or lower barriers to participation, ensuring that your platform to receive submissions is designed with ease of use and accessible to the most potential participants. It may be also helpful to create a compelling presentation or description why crowdsourcing is needed and how it will benefit the community to motivate participation.

Identification of Key Ideas

A crowdsourcing event can accept ideas on an ongoing basis, but it is helpful to plan out the timeline when to close the submission so you can focus on the next steps.  Submitted ideas can be reviewed at any time so it is also helpful to consider how you would interact with participants during the process, e.g., to encourage further development if a good idea is spotted. Since this is an open call process, you will have less control over the output. Putting effort into filtering and evaluating the best resulting ideas is a key to make most out of the crowdsourced ideas.

Synthesis & Next Steps

Despite the advantage of uncovering insights & ideas from a broad range of participants, collected ideas may not provide any direct indication of next steps. To make the most of the collected ideas, you need to infuse your vision and expertise to distill insights and how to utilize ideas in the best way.

As crowdsourcing relies on voluntary participation of people interested in the cause, it is natural for them to be interested in knowing next steps that may be the result of the crowdsourcing, or their inputs. Hence it is important for you to provide appropriate information for all participants on how you are utilizing the submissions and what you plan to do next and how their contributions have helped you, especially to ensure the healthy relationship with the community.