Crowdsourcing Becomes a Corporate Innovation Tool
When small companies engage in crowdsourcing to generate ideas or funds, the logic is clear – these businesses have limited internal personnel and resources, and thus have much to gain from the public. But what about organizations that are already large and established? Through its open innovation initiative ‘GENIUSLINK™’ as part of the GE Fuse program, General Electric aims to bring together the brightest minds around the world to solve the organization’s toughest problems.
GE Fuse’s Dyan Finkhousen understands that problem solving through advanced manufacturing techniques and processes requires collaboration with experts and entrepreneurs everywhere. Epsen Fuller Group spoke with Dyan at the CrowdSourcingWeek Summit in Washington DC as she explained how exactly GE’s open innovation initiatives use the crowd globally to accelerate product and technology development. “GENIUSLINK™ was incubated in GE Corporate under the direction of GE Vice Chair Beth Comstock. This was a strategic experiment to see how and if open innovation and crowdsourcing techniques could be applied at GE—and how GE could harness the power of the crowd to augment quality, accessibility of information and speed to market. In a shift to scale, GE Global Operations assumed responsibility of GENIUSLINK™, further expanding the boundaries of how the crowd can fluidly provide resource and intellectual firepower.”
Further insight on the topic can be gained through Forbes contributor Chris Cancialosi, who highlighted GE’s Fuse platform to show that there is a way for community skills to become part of the innovation mix at big companies. (May 16, Cancialosi) Fuse Community Leader Amelia Gandara explained that GE harnesses the curiosity of engineers and technical contributors around the world. While some are unable to commit to the company on a more permanent basis, with locations or schedules that preclude them from joining, they can still provide ideas and expertise on an ad-hoc basis, making GE a richer and more productive environment for new development.
Gandara added that companies hoping to emulate this example and begin taking in outside contributions should be clear on the ground rules before they launch the program. Leaders should know whether they’re looking to cut costs or time, and whether they’re opening the problems to outside eyes. Furthermore, they should ensure organizational leaders are on board and be certain they apply the lessons from each successive project tackled with the crowdsourced model.
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