Crowdsourcing is a very effective way to align learning with the speed of business. A properly implemented crowdsourcing system for corporate training can save you a lot of time, increase learner engagement, and lower turnover.
We’ve already written about why L&D should be utilizing crowdsourcing. Now, we’re going to show you how to develop a systematic framework for crowdsourcing training, so that it creates efficiencies in your processes rather than taking up more of your time.
1. Who is “the crowd”?
The first thing to think about is “Who is the crowd?” As we define what ideas or content we need, it will become easier to define which pool of employees to crowdsource from.
Perhaps you only want to crowdsource training requests from managers, rather than employees. Or you want to target a specific group of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for training ideas on a particular topic. Defining the “crowd” will help you refine your strategy along the next steps of the process.
2. What to crowdsource?
A prime example in learning and development is crowdsourcing training requests. Allowing employees to tell you what they want to learn (and then delivering on those requests) has several benefits on both sides:
- L&D will be creating training that is actually needed/wanted
- Engagement with the training will be higher as employees will feel a need they identified is being met
- Knowledge gaps will become apparent and can be addressed accordingly.
Another example is crowdsourcing the training content itself. Your organization is full of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) with specialized expertise in their given fields. They are also experienced in your specific market, they know your customers, and they understand your operations. Leveraging these SMEs is a cost effective way to produce invaluable training content. And all you need is the right tools and technology in place to do it.
3. Establish rewards and incentives
Effective crowdsourcing solutions have clear incentives. Rewards and recognition are paramount to getting results.
For crowdsourcing to be effective, you have to get more out of it than the time and effort you are putting into implementing it. If your “crowd” is not motivated to contribute in an active and ongoing way, you run the risk of not reaching the minimum utilization rate needed to produce useful results.
One useful incentive for crowdsourcing training is entertainment: creating a game or competition. For example, an award for most impactful training project idea, most creative training content etc.
Some companies have gone as far as to offer monetary rewards. One client of Synapse moved to a crowdsourcing model for their training development and offered $200 per training module created by SMEs. It cost a lot less than hiring a third-party firm or additional resources. And the training now can be updated quickly and easily as the business requires.
4. How to crowdsource
An important step in implementing a crowdsourcing model is putting tools in place to consolidate requests and contributions. Technology is your friend when it comes to the nuts and bolts of managing crowdsourced training, whether it’s training requests or contributed content.
The following questions provide a useful guide to approaching the implementation phase of crowdsourcing:
- How will you promote the new crowdsourcing system and encourage contributions?
- Where will you collect the ideas/requests/content?
- How will you filter out the good from the bad?
- What will be the next steps once you have identified useful crowdsourced material?
- How will you feedback successes to “the crowd” to encourage further contributions?
Getting the framework and the technology in place first will help create an easy flow for you to manage your crowdsourced material.
5. The importance of analytics
To truly make crowdsourcing work, you need a way to gather feedback to continuously improve your content.
Taking feedback from learners, developing detailed surveys and making sure you have an ironclad training request/content sourcing process is key.
Find a way to track the crowdsourced items, from ideation right through to successful outcomes, then measure against your overall successes. It will soon become clear whether your crowdsourcing methods have been effective, have saved you time and resources, and had a positive impact on your learning strategy and the achievement of high level goals.