Tuesday, August 6, 2013

When is a Crowd Too Big to Handle?

There are two aspects of crowdsourcing websites that are very appealing. To individuals, these sites provide the chance to share ideas and see the results, something we often don't get to experience in a world that's often unfair. For entrepreneurs, the crowds offer the opportunity to hire fewer employees, and create a customer base that feels a sense of ownership and personal pride in the company.  But is crowdsourcing always the right approach?

It shouldn't take a crowd to figure that out. Virtual crowds are great for market research and spreading the word about a new product or service, especially among the younger generation. But when they get too large, they are not always effective. Big teams can take longer to make decisions, whether they are made unanimously or by majority. And sometimes because of the size, the ideas of some of the smartest teammates are drowned out by the crowd, leading to bad results. The question of how the optimal team size has been studied by experts for quite some time, and of course, there are different opinions (check out this article from Knowledge@Wharton). But it's a question that we must continue to ask, as the crowdsourcing industry gets more crowded every day.

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