Crowd-sourcing and Radio

A new idea which won’t work…

Notice I didn’t say “can’t.”

Almost every GM and Group Executive I speak with bemoans the lack of creativity in our business.


That’s a bit ironic given that many of Radio’s most creative types have been pink-slipped over the past 10 years. But beyond pointing a finger of blame, is this factual? I have to say, I agree, which made this recent article in the NY TIMES really interesting. Here’s a taste:

“IBM, for example, conducts online brainstorming sessions it calls ‘jams’ — 13 over the past 7 years.”

“IBM used one session to guide its strategy for investing in new growth fields, starting in 2006. An estimated 150,000 employees, clients, business partners and academics participated. Management sifted through the ideas and committed $100 million to invest in several opportunities to apply technology innovations to energy saving, health care and smart electricy grids.”

“It starts out as crowdsourcing and it is culled to a set of action items…”

“Opening the corporate doors to ideas and inspiration from the collective crowd holds great potential, but there are pitfalls…To succeed, a company must have a culture open to outside ideas and a system for vetting and acting on themIn business, it’s not how many ideas you have; what matters is how many ideas you translate into products and services.

Here’s the problems I see with following IBM’s lead:

1. Radio does not have a culture open to outside ideas. Most of the time, ideas outside the tiny group who influence the decisions made in the largest corner office are seen as a threat, and not welcomed. There’s way too much insecurity among the top Programming and Management in most radio companies.

2. Radio has no system for vetting and acting on the best ideas that might be generated from an exercise like this, unless they lead to a further cutting of staffing and expenses.

That’s too bad, because you’d think Radio, with its ability to reach millions of listeners, not only in its home cities, but everywhere now, thanks to streaming, would be a natural to use the wisdom of crowds.

Heck, we might even be able to use online brainstorming, our access to so many people, as a wonderful tool to help advertisers design better products and services, and more effective marketing campaigns.

If only it didn’t cost money…