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How ‘wise crowd’ competitions foster innovation

Competition for resources is a given in many organisations and institutions. Researchers compete for research grants, filmmakers compete for production funding, entrepreneurs compete for capital.  In all these contexts, the fairness of the competitive process is crucial to its acceptance. People will accept the outcomes without complaint if they know they’ve had a fair chance – even if the chance was small.

AUTHOR: David Court


How ‘wise crowd’ competitions foster innovation

Competition for resources is a given in many organisations and institutions. Researchers compete for research grants, filmmakers compete for production funding, entrepreneurs compete for capital. 

In all these contexts, the fairness of the competitive process is crucial to its acceptance. People will accept the outcomes without complaint if they know they’ve had a fair chance – even if the chance was small.

But where there is doubt about the process, confidence falls away rapidly. 

A common source of doubt is when decision-makers are veiled or anonymous. Knowing who is making the decisions really matters. It creates an implicit accountability. And with that accountability comes confidence in the process.

Another source of doubt is opacity in the process. If people can’t see all the steps, they are free to imagine hidden interventions or hidden agendas. Trust is corroded by opacity.

At Wizer Enterprise, we emphasise trust at every stage. Our decision processes are transparent to all participants, with no hidden steps. And voting is ‘reputational’, meaning that the identity of a voter is attached to their vote. 

This approach not only builds confidence in the process, it changes the process and the outcomes for the better:

• Participants are encouraged to bring forward their best ideas (not put them away in a bottom drawer waiting for more propitious circumstances). 

• Decision-makers are encouraged to own their decisions.

• The wider community of an organisation is encouraged to buy into the decision process and its outcomes.

In short, a trusted decision process enables the risk-taking and buy-in that are crucial to real innovation. 

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