Crowdguiding: All about an emerging concept

4 minutes read

You’ve already heard of crowdfunding or crowdsourcing, right? Well, today I’m going to explain to you what crowdguiding is. Before I tell you more about this term and its many qualities, let me first talk about the preconceived notions that we sometimes have about a crowd. Then you can discover just how powerful it can be. Happy reading!

Crowds are dumb

We have all found ourselves lost in a crowd with the contradictory feeling of being alone and lost, despite the large number of people. That’s when we let go and slowly join the energy of the crowd. We lose our bearings, we start to follow the movement and overreact. This is called the crowd effect.

You may have already heard about this event that took place on June 3, 2017 in Turin: during a soccer match broadcast in San Carlo Square, a person with a backpack behaved suspiciously. Those nearby immediately thought he was a terrorist and began to run, which caused widespread panic. More than 1,500 people were injured in the stampede.
Undeniably, the crowd effect can have disastrous consequences.

But rest assured, I am not so pessimistic about this world. Although crowds can lead to thoughtless actions, I will show you that the collective intelligence of a mass of people can be very powerful, creative forces.

The power of crowds

Have you ever heard of the English statistician Francis Glaton? In 1906, he went to Plymouth to visit an agricultural fair. When he arrived, he was quickly interested in a contest to guess the weight of an ox. About 800 people each gave an estimate. Looking at the estimates one by one, they were obviously wrong. However, and this is where Galton was surprised, by averaging the estimates, we get a result (548 kg) which is just about the expected result (543 kg) for the weight of this ox. This is called the “wisdom of crowds“: the average error of a group yields an answer very close to the truth.

Do you think that women in France would have obtained the right to vote in 1944 if they had not all demonstrated together to make things happen? Crowd 1 – Individuality 0. Keeping with this idea of a crowd being a positive force, don’t you think that Wikipedia is a magnificent demonstration of this? Each article published on the site is the result of a participative writing process that allows everyone to contribute knowledge that, put together, will form a complete article. Similarly, have you ever been curious and gone to the “discussion” section on a Wikipedia page? There you can find conversations between the authors and people who come up with corrections and suggestions to collectively improve the final article.
So a crowd may not be that dumb, on the contrary, cohesion and mutual help can create beautiful things!

I think you now understand that a crowd can have good and bad sides. Like everything, if I may say so. But by putting it to use to serve a collective good, it becomes a real force that can achieve great things: the mobilization of the Indian people by Gandhi to obtain independence in 1947, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004 that led to a free and fair revote for the presidential election, the #MeToo movement that allows victims of sexual abuse and sexual harassment to express themselves and to help convict abusers…

Crowdguiding: the crowd at the service of others

Crowdguiding for innovation

But, what is crowdguiding? A term made up of “crowd” and “guiding”, which gives us the following definition: “being guided by the crowd“.

In more concrete terms, what does this mean? Imagine a community of people who, together, work to guide and launch a project in which everyone has something to contribute. Well, in this situation, it’s called crowdguiding. It’s simply a matter of bringing people together to think and work on a subject. If each person worked separately, the results would be just as interesting, but it is the group’s common thinking that carries a project and adds value by confronting the different ideas.

As you can understand, crowdguiding brings out the best in a crowd: collective intelligence. You probably remember some of the group projects you had to do in school: isn’t sharing ideas and group work more stimulating and efficient? I think most would say yes.

The crowd also represents diversity (experience, culture, gender,…), and that diversity when it comes to collective intelligence is very powerful! In fact, in her article “The Impact of Diversity in the Workplace” published in the academic journal Review of Integrative Business & Economics Research, Elizabeth Foma writes that groups composed of people from different ethnic backgrounds tend to have higher productivity rates. Why is that? Because each person is able to bring a range of knowledge through their different backgrounds and experiences.

Thinking together allows us to improve, to see things from another angle, to bounce ideas off others and of course, to enrich our own thinking. But it also allows us to dream, because by helping solve collective problems, we become a part of a much larger project (a bit like if you were accompanying Frodo in his quest to destroy the ring).

Crowdguiding at UMI

By now, you have been able to discover and better understand what crowdguiding is. As it happens, we created this term to place it at the heart of our community. For us, it means that an innovation project is supported by the crowd, and in our case contributors. Everyone can guide a project: through a comment, a response, a project share, a contact request for the project owner…

Innovation is characterized by uncertainties and intuition, we launch ourselves into it without always knowing where it will lead us. If you’re not sure where the finish line is, don’t you agree that 10 guides are better than one to help you along the way?

UMI has created a community that builds bridges between countries, professions and experiences to help guide innovations that address today’s problems. Crowdguiding allows every innovation enthusiast to participate in a much larger project: shaping the world of tomorrow.

Doesn’t that make you want to join the UMI community?

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