Biggest Reasons Public Servants don’t Crowdsource

One of the things that we do that we believe is a best practice in our engagements is ask our partners to do two surveys at the conclusion of a campaign; one about us and one about them. It is always interesting to see the results and, certainly, helps everyone to improve what may be some of the challenges and validate some of the victories.

If you follow social media then you will know that one of the most significant challenges – particularly in the public sector environment – is getting people to participate. So, one of the insights that we get and that we are happy to share with you is why.

There is some interesting stuff here. Without getting into it too deep, at least three of the reasons equating to almost half of the responses for not participating could be found in just about any exercise in the public service (and most organizations) these days. This includes:

* No Time (30%)
* Forgot (7%)
* Felt I would not be able to contribute (10%)

I’m going to classify the first two as well, pretty typical and excuses that don’t hold a lot of muster. The third, certainly, is more valid and hopefully a number that we will all see decline as people realize that they all have something to offer any well setup crowdsourcing exercise (or they shouldn’t be asked to participate) and that there are different ways to contribute that align to one’s confidence, character, and experience. This last one also blends in “all my ideas had already been added” somewhat. Again, absolutely truth in that response, particularly for those newly embarked on crowdsourcing as they will find over time that there are many ways to contribute, not just with new ideas.

One of the biggest validations that we see is the second-highest response, “thought nothing would be done with the ideas”. Let’s face it, many of us have been down this road before where an exercise is conducted, expectations set, and delivery falls flat (and sometimes straight over onto itself). Debilitating. Frustrating. Pick your adjective.

If there is one area where we – as a partner in crowdsourcing efforts – have spent significant time and effort it is in helping to ensure that the follow through at the conclusion of an engagement is efficient and effective because it is imperative. Sponsors of our engagements are asking their audience for a little more than what they may have asked in other activities, leaving them at the altar when it is your turn to recite your vow’s…not an option.

It does not have to complicated but it does have to be transparent and communicated…and it is a good way to up participation by about 25%.


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Fascinating survey. I think that employees have been beaten down with lame suggestion boxes for years so organizations need to show they are actually listening.

Craig Thomler

I feel that key reasons people don’t engage within the firewall are the same as why people don’t engage outside the firewall:
* They don’t believe they will be heard
* They fear being embarrassed by suggesting silly/repeat ideas

The first reason leads directly into the ‘no time’ – people make time for things that are important. If people do not believe they will be listened to, it is not important for them to contribute, therefore they don’t prioritise engagement over other activities – hence no time.

Ditto ‘forgot’. Not important, not top of mind, mentally filed into the later or too hard basket and forgot.

The key always is to ensure people are listened to – and perceive that they are being listened to (through active interaction and actual demonstrations that the organisation respects their views) and, of course, to make the barriers to participation as low as possible – from clarity in what is being asked and what will be done with the information provided through to technically how people submit their ideas and thoughts.

Geordie Adams

Bang on for both comments. The structure that we set out in our methodology actually puts more emphasis on the Follow Through then on the Campaign itself, particularly for first-time, enterprise-wide engagements.