Letting the Crowds Speak

If you had a million dollars to invest, would you leave it in a savings account drawing only a few percentage points of interest? Financial planners around the world would hope not.

Yet every day associations leave significant assets in the form of member interest, expertise, and intellectual capital to accrue value in lower-yield, traditional forums. While the world around us is experimenting at a dizzying pace with all varieties of social media and consumer-generated content and innovation, many associations still rely on fairly conventional means to tap into the collective wisdom of our member crowds.

Any effective financial portfolio will include diversified investments--some riskier than others--tied to specific, long-term desired returns. Any effective association's knowledge-management portfolio should be similarly conceived and diversified. We need a mix of traditional approaches that are low risk and likely to yield a consistent, albeit not always the highest, potential return coupled with more progressive, less predictable forms of member engagement with a greater potential payoff.

These are the two introductory paragraphs from my February 2007 article on some of the possibilities of open-source and crowdsourcing for associations. You can read the complete article here.