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Philips starts sourcing crowds

08.28.07

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Today I visited the first gathering of the Philips Design Group. Already since a couple of months Philips has been active in Second Life. They are developing an island that unfortunately is still closed for public. On the islands of ING Banks “Our Virtual Holland“, Philips build a few open air meeting areas where they started with there first steps of ‘crowd sourcing‘.

The discussion touched three subjects:

  • the future of packaging
  • the future of clothing
  • the future of self expression

After an introduction the group (about 20 people i would say) was divided into three smaller groups who started a discussion about one of these subjects, lead by a moderator. After 20 minutes or so, we changed places and discussed the second and third subject. It was interesting to notice the variety of the groups, from educators to computer specialist and marketeers. I also noticed that the discussions straight away went quite serious and ‘deep’, compared to the many real life brainstorms i have attended these went surprisingly fast and smooth.

I asked Philips how they where planning to process all the chats (I have about 15 pages of chatlog for just my sessions) and how they envisioned the followup. Answers stayed a bit vague, I feel they themselves are simply experimenting with a virtual platform as source for crowdsourcing. In any way, by taking the community serious and by involving residents i at least feel that Philips is showing a better understanding of the power of virtual worlds compared to many other brands…

(I will try to find some time to summarize the results of the chats, but dunno if i can find the time. However, I am planning to do a little interview with Philips somewhere this week)

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2 comments so far

Hi Dobre, I am curious to see how you have described Philips Design’s activities in Second Life as crowd sourcing. An understandable conclusion perhaps after your first gathering, but as we discussed yesterday the ongoing focus is intended to be in the direction of co-creation. This has some fundamental and I think quite important differences to crowdsourcing. Interestingly in previous gatherings we have also had similar discussions with other terms used such as ‘collaboration’ (even co-collaboration) and ‘mass-customisation’ which although all can be said to involve people ‘outside’ of the company have a somewhat different approach and in particular a different ’solution relationship’ in mind. For example, where crowdsourcing is generally considered to be about taking a job or task that would traditionally be carried out by an employee of the company and outsourcing it to a large group of ‘enlisted’ people, co-creation is more about creating solutions with true stakeholder involvement; that is the kind of person that the end result is truly intended for (but not exclusively as in mass-customisation). So the co-creator is highly valued and respected for their particular, often unique, perspective in relation to the solution in mind . . and it is this depth of context and understanding that is desired. If you really want to know more about co-creation though you should get in touch with Centrasian as he is our expert in that area! A great topic for discussion! Your presence and involvement at the gathering was also very valued, thank you for coming and we hope to see you again in the future. . Yel

Hi Yel, indeed we discussed this briefly and even more, I was quite curious for the ultimate goals of Philips and the way things would proceed.

For me personally, I think we didnt touch elements of co-creation yet, since I feel we have not been actually creating but more collaborating in a brainstorm about a variety of subjects. Perhaps creating ideas, yes, but I am not sure if this can be called co-creation yet? However, I feel it was more about ’sourcing the crowds’, not so much ‘outsourcing’ but using the crowd, the people, as a ’source’ for ideas, feedback and information. But perhaps we can indeed call every form of creative collaboration ‘co-creation’ (but then one would argue that all creation is co-creation).

In any way I think that Philips is showing great vision by involving the online community with innovation and idea development!! Hear hear





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