Can You Open Source Your Strategy?

In the October 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Barry Newstead wrote a short piece on the process at Wikimedia foundation.  Although this has limited applications to competitive commercial organizations, there are some elements that can be extracted and leveraged by for profit organizations. Crowdsourcing the Right Way included the following:

  1. Get ideas out early

  2. Share the raw data

  3. Give people time

  4. Recognize when a crowd is just a crowd

The two ideas that are most relevent for for-profits are the second and the fourth.  Sharing the raw data draws in the opinions from the participants without sharing the given strategic direction.  The last idea, recognizing when a crowd is just a crowd, helps the C suite draw the boundary between when you can really benefit from outside input.

We have found several for profit organizations in our research that have opened up the strategy process (for example the one year product roadmap) to closed communities with good success.  Obviously, this open source is only a component of a strategy process, but one that companies should examine as it provides informed input that the C suite can use for its own purposes.