Top positive review
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This should get you thinking in the right direction...
on November 9, 2007
Are you getting those "what's this Web 2.0 stuff" questions at work? Does the boss want to know why s/he should be considering how social networking can help the business? Barry Libert and Jon Spector can answer some of those questions in the book We Are Smarter Than Me: How to Unleash the Power of Crowds in Your Business. It's a bit "rah rah" in nature, and it actually failed in its initial goal. But this small volume should be more than enough to get your management thinking in the right direction...
How We Got Here; Look What We Can Do; Go from R&D to R&WE; How May We Help We?; Customer, Sell Thyself; If We Build It, We Will Come; Welcome to the World Bank of We; Make Everyone a C-We-O; Lead from the Rear; Afterword - Join the Crowd; Company Index; Name Index; Subject Index; Acknowledgments
The general idea in We is that no one single person or organization can have all the right answers. It's only as you invite others into the conversation that you will make dramatic leaps in customer involvement and ownership. These invitations often show up these days in web sites using tools such as discussion forums, community volunteer help desks, wikis, etc. The "crowds" know more than you do, and they are often quite willing to be part of your success if you'll let them. Take Amazon.com for example... a huge differentiator is their customer review feature (of which this review will be part of as soon as I'm done). Why do people contribute their time and effort on reviews of items when it only serves to help Amazon sell more? Because people are passionate about what they like and dislike, and they want their voice to be heard. This "wisdom of the crowds" enables others to get a more complete view of a product, and that ability drives traffic and sales. The reviewer feels good, the buyer has a better experience, the manufacturer is happy (provided the review was a good one), and Amazon draws more traffic. This is but one example of many that are covered in the book, and its worth the small investment of time to go through the 150+ pages.
When I said the book failed in its initial goal, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The authors actually wanted this book to write itself using wikis and discussion forums for each chapter. The profits of the sales would then be donated to charities, with the contributors determining the percentage of what went where. The profit thing worked, but there still needed to be the traditional writer, editor, etc. in order to get everything to actually end up on the shelf. But even at that, the input of hundreds of participants does come through in the pages, and it's a prime example of the "we" being smarter than the "me".
I also thought the book was a bit on the "this is all great and wonderful, and you need to do it now!" side. Techies will not find details on how to make this all happen, nor will you get a lot of deep philosophical discussion on the academic value of this approach. The writing is emotional, and is meant to touch the reader at a level that calls for some type of response. If you give this to your management (or if you're management yourself), you should come away understanding what "crowdsourcing" is all about, as well as how it has worked in other companies and organizations. From there, you can take the next steps towards nailing down your own personal action plan...