You dont have to go into the Web for ideas. If youre paranoid about strangers, you can tap into the expertise of relative strangers like your employee population. Companies like Imaginatik can help you leverage the intelligence of all your employees regardless of their location or job function. This approach essentially distributes and manages the digital suggestion box.
Whats the point? Were not that smart and could use some help from time to time to solve tough problems.
Theres a continuum of familiarity that defines comfort for many companies. Relative strangers who work for the company but have never met form one crowd, while perfect strangers who live and work on the Web, form another crowd.
Some companies experiment with internal crowd- sourcing. While this can be effective, its a little contradictory or at least sub-optimal, since crowdsourcing, by definition, is the most effective with large crowds. Nevertheless, internal crowdsourcing is a good place to start.
Some years back there was a lot of discussion about the free-agent nation, where individual contributors would rent themselves for specific tasks. They charged an hourly rate (in most cases) to solve discrete, well-bounded problems posted by individuals or corporations.
Crowdsourcing is an extension of this process but involves proactive problem posting by the companies looking (anywhere) for help. Crowdsourcing brings problems directly to the crowd, to 21st century free agents.
Companies that already rely heavily upon part-time so called 1099 employees should love the crowdsourcing model because its conceptually very similar to the idea of employing professionals-by-the-task.
Its also similar to on-demand problem solving, since demand defines opportunities (and compensation). Crowdsourcing is project-driven outsourcing that in these tough economic times makes a lot of sense even if you think you know it all. Give it a try.