This article is from the issue: Strategy and Innovation

Blog: Crowdsourcing: Innovation or Myth?

Jul 30, 2017

Gilles Gravelle, Director of Research for The Seed Company greatly believes in the power of crowdsourcing because he has seen it work many times in his work doing Bible translation. The crowdsourcing process can be a way to bring together the many unique insights, skills, experiences and giftings in a community to solve an issue or project. This is done instead of traditionally relying on one expert who comes to a community and imports his or her knowledge into a certain situation.

Of course, there are plenty of critics. One article, “The Myth of Crowdsourcing” says:

For the past 10 years, the buzz around open source has created a similar false impression. The notion of crowds creating solutions appeals to our desire to believe that working together we can do anything, but in terms of innovation it is just ridiculous.

There is no crowd in crowdsourcing. There are only virtuosos, usually uniquely talented, highly trained people who have worked for decades in a field. Frequently, these innovators have been funded through failure after failure. From their fervent brains spring new ideas. The crowd has nothing to do with it. The crowd solves nothing, creates nothing.

The author of this article is a high-ranking employee and editor of a research firm, so I’m sure that influences greatly his perception of this process. Crowdsourcing can be a threat to those in a position of power and authority, because it seeks to give that very authority to the wider group, instead of concentrating it at the top. However, what do you think of his comment? Do you agree?

Gilles focused mostly on ways of doing this through technology, such as using social media or web platforms to gather large amounts of information. We have seemingly limitless ways to use technology to gather the many insights and intellect already in a community for ministry projects, or international development projects around the world. How do you imagine you could use crowdsourcing and technology to accelerate the innovation and creativity in your project?

Image credit: Graphicstock

Yalin Xin, Ph.D

Yalin Xin is the associate professor of intercultural studies at William Carey International University. He was formerly a research fellow at the Center for the Study of World Christian Revitalization Movements and Senior Editor for the William Carey International Development Journal. His research interest includes Christian renewal and revitalization movements and Christianity in China.