(Our blog is usually a place where we at Collective Next share what we’ve learned in our work. We occasionally invite “friends of the family” to report and opine, too. You can see some other recent examples here and here and here and here.)
One of our favorite moments at TED 2012 was when Lior Zoref asked us in the audience to guess the weight of an ox he had brought onstage at the Long Beach Convention Center. It was a stunt, but it also illuminated a serious point: Crowdsourcing can be an extremely valuable tool for decision-making.
Lior has expanded his ideas in his recent Mindsharing: The Art of Crowdsourcing Everything. One of the book’s greatest strengths is giving example after example of how mindsharing prevents many of the conformities that come with groupthink. It also shows how to get around some of the most common mistakes associated with mindsharing: selling, not engaging, disappearing, offending. We spoke to Lior recently about some of the ideas in his provocative book.
When you’re trying to entice a crowd to participate in something, is there a difference between asking for advice and asking for ideas?
When you’re looking for an idea, you need to ignite creativity. You can inspire people to be creative. For me, it was when one of my followers suggested I use the ox as part of the TED Talk. For a company, it could be a similarly breakthrough idea. For advice, it’s not about eliciting that one breakthrough idea. It’s about collecting many ideas in an environment where big crowds can be more creative than agencies or vendors.
You do a rigorous job in the book of laying out what mindsharing does for the person asking the question. What does the person answering the question get out of it?
What motivates the crowd? The crowd feel like they’re doing something important. It’s inspiring to them. For my talk and my book, people felt that they are with me on my journey. My success is their success. When you see reality show on TV, you might get excited when you see someone win because you’re a fan, but you didn’t have anything to do with it. But when you see someone achieve a goal and you played an active part, you’re not just a follower. You feel emotionally connected to what is happening. Crowds find value from the process even if their connection with you is only online. You can see in their eyes, how engaged they are, like they are talking to a good friend even though I am meeting them for the first time.
What have you learned about crowdsourcing since you’ve gone out and talked about the book?
One downside to crowdsourcing that wasn’t sure I was aware of is when you use crowdsourcing for personal life. Crowdsourcing can be so powerful. The results come back so quickly. Maybe too quickly. Some things take time. Crowdsourcing is a very powerful tool, but you have to think about what you get back before you act. There are many challenges in life that you can’t address until you give them proper time. It’s happened to me; I’ve seen this happen to other people as well.
At TED2012, you seemed so assured onstage. But in the book you described how worried you were. How did you perform so well despite that fear?
Because I knew I was going to be so scared, I needed to practice like hell. I did hundreds of rehearsals. Not dozens. Hundreds. I didn’t want to perform it as an actor; what happened during the talk was genuine. By practicing so much I truly knew what I wanted to say. Whenever it comes to something like this, practice is the best answer.