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Crowds and the future of creativity and innovation

By Ross Dawson

Recently, I gave the opening keynote at the Crowdsourcing Week on Connecting the Crowd: The Future of Creativity and Innovation. Below are the slides for my keynote. Please note that the slides are intended as visual support to my presentation, and are not designed to be meaningful on their own. However, they may still be useful or of interest to those who did not attend the keynote.

Here are a few quick notes on what I covered:

1. Humanity
As computers transcend many human capabilities and work is dehumanized, we must focus on the skills and abilities where humans excel beyond any imaginable machine capability. At the heart of those human capabilities are creativity and innovation.

2. Crowds
Crowdsourcing, in ‘tapping the minds of many’ through a wide variety of mechanisms, can bring about an extraordinary degree of new connections from which creative ideas emerge. There is absolutely still a role for individual genius, and we need to explore further the domains in which individuals or small groups excel, and where crowds can create unique value.

3. Creativity
Studies show that creative abilities are on the wane in the US. To remedy that we must allow the sexual life of ideas to flourish, enabling connections and networks to form. Organizational network analysis helps us to design more innovative companies and business ecosystems.

4. Structure
There are two primary constraints on taking innovation to crowds: Intellectual Property and Context. The former is significant though IP protection is often over-emphasized. Context is often more critical, as innovation often requires rich organizational context. The two major domains of crowdsourcing for innovation are Defined Tasks and Distributed Ideas, each with a variety of different platforms available. Internal crowds are appropriate where innovation requires the most context.

5. Opportunities
There are a set of capabilities that organizations need to get better at to build their capabilities at creativity and innovation, including outcome definition, communication of context, crowd mechanisms, and getting broader participation. They must look beyond their boundaries in order to get the best ideas and outcomes.

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