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Mass collaboration March 7, 2007

Posted by Charley S in innovation, Internet, Organizational Design.
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http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/feb2007/id20070201_774736.htm

While cruising Business Week I encountered this article on how a struggling Gold Mine was able to completely turn its operation around through its utilization previously unused resources, the general public.  GoldCorp is a gold mining operation that is based in Canada.  The company owns over 50,000 acres of land for that is available for mining.  A few years back the company was in trouble.  It did not know where to actually dig for gold on the land it had, and the company itself did not have enough talented people and they were not being profitable.  GoldCorp decided on an extremely risky strategy; they organized a contest with over a half million dollars in prize money set aside, and released information on the land out over the Internet.  Soon, over 1,000 virtual gold diggers were involved, ranging from geologists and mathematicians to graduate students.  This program was extremely successful, resulting in the company going from a struggling $100 million dollar revenues, to solid $3 billion a year in revenues.  This program defies traditional logic which tells you that your competitors should be in the dark about your operations. 

GoldCorp’s successful mass collaboration program has several implications.  One, for small companies, such as GoldCorp, this type of program is a way to get access to technically knowledgeable people outside the company without having to pay for an employee.  For large companies, mass collaboration using the Internet is a way for consumers to provide innovative ideas and to help keep products fresh and in line with consumer tastes.  Many companies have started to use mass collaboration to help innovate their products.  The article cites GE and Boeing as leading the way, and if giant corporations such as these are doing it, I would say that many will follow.

 Right now the idea of mass collaboration is pretty new, mainly due to how fast technology is advancing.  In the future, it may be possible for companies to use mass collaboration as the primary way that it innovates products.  Wikipedia is a company that is totally driven by consumer posts, and if an encyclopedia can be written totally by individual contributors, what else is on the horizon?

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Comments»

1. Charley S - March 7, 2007

This is the old post, I accidentally posted it on my own blog instead of our collective one. Oops.

2. silviamocanu07 - March 7, 2007

I think that mass collaboration is a very innovative and certainly effective idea. This way companies are able to tap into a large pool of ideas coming from their customers, so not only are they being innovative, but they are also able to better understand consumer needs and to anticipate what new products would have a high demand on the market.

3. Lady - March 14, 2007

I think that it is commendable that GoldCorp broke away from the norm of keeping competitors in the dark about their operations. It was a very risky move and could have backfired if their competitors might have chosen to exploit GoldCorp’s weaknesses and use them to their advantage.

In regards to mass collaboration with people outside the organization, I believe that it is still going to be a last resort for corporations. This is because it is very risky for businesses to put themselves out their in a vulnerable state. Only when corporations realize that they have no other options, they will take the risk to take advice from “outsiders” such as consumers and random people on the internet.

4. Jordi - March 23, 2007

Charley-

You attracted the attention of another blogger enough to get a link through.

http://nkilkenny.wordpress.com/tag/innovation/

Wikipedia is not even a company really is it? Is it for profit?

5. Jordi - April 10, 2007

You mention that you common sense says you should keep competitors in the dark. Agreed. But are the virtual gold miners competitors? Doesn’t GoldCorp own the mining rights?


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