Crowdsourcing often seems to be a highPhoto: Jon-Eric Melsaeter/Flickr (Creative Commons) stress area for organisations, who fear what might happen if they allowed their users to design their products and services.

However what is often forgotten is that it's not about handing over the design process, it is about sharing it as a codesign process - combining the brain power of a few internal or contracted specialist designers who don't necessarily use your products or services with the brain power of thousands of non-specialists who use or interact with your products and services, often on a regular basis.

A good example of this process was recently discussed in Inc., where Fiat crowd sourced the design of its 2009 concept car, the Fiat Mio.

The main part of this process was conducted in Spanish (as Fiat is Brazilian based), and while I watched it occur at the time, there was only a limited subset of the conversation in English.

However Fiat ended up involving people from 160 countries - taking on board over 10,000 suggestions.  The website about the making of the car provides more information on how Fiat went about integrating these suggestions.

The concept car won widespread critical acclaim. 
 
This isn't the only approach possible, and the article in Inc, Letting Your Customers Design Your Products, describes five different types of crowd sourcing:
  • Crowdfunding: Sites such as Kickstarter that allow an individual or enterprise to receive funding.
  • Distributed knowledge: The aggregation of data and information from a variety of sources.
  • Cloud labor: Leveraging a virtual labor pool.
  • Collective creativity: Tapping "creative" communities for user-generated art, media or content.
  • Open innovation: The use of outside resources to generate new ideas and company processes.
 How many of these could your agency benefit from?