The quality vs quantity debate

The web has opened up vast scope to collaborate on every front. Global corporations have been utilising crowdsourcing for some years to generate ideas, a trend that has filtered through to projects that span age-groups, industries and geographic locations. As journalist Katie Cincotta writes, the “voice of the crowd has never been louder”, with technology unleashing undreamt-of opportunities for collective creativity on everything from fundraising to emergency responses. Great for business, right? Like everything, perhaps in moderation, points out Milan-based innovation expert, Roberto Verganti, who’s collaborating himself – with Harvard Business School Professor, Gary Pisano – on a project exploring the potential of the new forms of web-enabled collaboration. He cites the example of Alberto Alessi, CEO of a homewares company that leverages collaborative input – but from a select network of external designers. Who’s right? Alessi or the crowdsourcers? Verganti suggests both quality and quantity are necessary, for different purposes. “A large quantity of collaborations is useful to create ideas,” he says. “The larger the number of collaborations, the higher the number of opportunities… High-quality collaboration is useful when it comes to make sense of all these opportunities. Highly skillful collaborators can help you to better interpret this wealth of insights, to recognise the value of ideas that is not often visible at first.”



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