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October 14, 2010



Hi Frank,
in adition to posting that really long comment a few minutes ago, I would like to stress that I very much enjoy your work. I've read several of your studies and articles, more recently your typology of customer co-creation from the book "New forms of collaborative innovation".

I'm researching collaborative innovation on two online innovation communities OpenIDEO and Quirky as a part of my master thesis at CBS, Denmark.
More specifically, I'm analyzing the motivations of the crowd to innovate, the rewarding mechanisms the crowd values and the tools provided for collaborative innovation. Here I'm using a wide range of literature in the fields of crowdsourcing, co-creation, user innovation, open innovation and motivational theories.

My question for you is if you have ideas for typologies or models, theories, that I could use in my analysis?



I’m also very interested in online innovation communities. My first impression of Quirky was really positive. The model seems to be interesting and viable. However, when I started to dwelve into the community and read a lot of posts from members, I noticed a lot of flaws in the current Quirky system.
First, what exactly is “social product development”? In my opinion it’s a product that is developed collaboratively, in between the members of the community and of course Quirky. However, I don’t think that Quirky provides good collaboration tools. I’m aware of the fact that people can vote on each other’s ideas, influence the name, colors and tagline. However, I’ve noticed that it is very easy to get biased. First of all, no one has the time to view and rate over 300 ideas every week, it’s quite time demanding. With so many ideas, it’s very easy to lose track and if you are to rate the uniqueness, usefulness and wow factor of all of these ideas, after some 20-30 minutes, your brain is overwhelmed.
The ideas that get selected are not necessarily the best ones because I think that:
1) People tend to vote for beautifully presented ideas, visuals, videos, etc.
2) People tend to vote for ideas with high buzz around them, comments etc. hoping that they will get selected and eventually they could earn some money.
After reading a lot of comments from community members, I’ve also come to the conclusion that not all ideas that have the highest votes and number of comments are the ones that are selected for further development, but more products that Quirky, in the end, is interested to make.
In addition, there is quite a lot of tension in the blog forums, as members are expressing their dissatisfaction with the influence system. In several occasions I’ve read posts from members complaining that they did not receive influence points even though their ideas, (which weren’t selected as a winner), or part of the concept of their ideas, are utilized in the further development of winning concepts. For me this indicates that there is a huge gap in the rewarding system. The possibility to build upon another’s idea and get influence points for that is lacking.
Another thing is that I believe Quirky is forgetting to cater for some very important motivations that drive people to innovate. Yes, we would all love to get money for our ideas/products/concepts, but there is a whole range of other intrinsic forces that drive people to participate in these innovation communities, that Quirky does not seem to take into account.
People innovate not only because they want to get cash, they innovate because they enjoy intellectual challenges, learning and skills development, self actualization, esteem, professional and personal identity, recognition, fun and enjoyment, a sense of belonging (in a community), the collaborative process with others and many more. Quirky seems to focus on one thing, money! And I do agree that for some, this model has proven to be successful, as in the case of Andrea, but of the 50.000 members, only few of them have made serious money.
Quirky don’t seem to focus on incentives that drive people to actively participate in their site, rather than money. If this is not taken care of, a lot of people will lose interest in the long run. They might not care because new people will come to join the site, but hey, this is not a sustainable model.
It seems that Quirky in the future would have to deal with a credibility issue. It smells to me as more of a competition site rather than a collaborative innovation community, where I think they should focus on tools for collaboration. There is no sense of a community on Quirky. People’s motivation to participate and innovate on the site would be much higher if they were allowed to really collaborate with each other and get recognized for that. The best ideas come from truly collaborative societies. Imagine how many unique ideas for products could see their light if more collaboration is allowed and the sense of competition is erased.
As Steven Johnson says: “an idea is a network!”.


Yannig Roth

It pretty much reminds me a French initiative that failed a couple of years ago: Crowdspirit. Its model was first based on complete crowdsourcing of the NPD-process and then on a kind of 'licensing the right to use the platform+community' for companies looking for innovation (Chanal & Caron-Fasan, 2008). The researchers have identified difficulties with such platforms (Chanal & Caron-Fasan, 2010)... and Crowdspirit doesn't exist anymore. Lack Of funding? Lack of community spirit? Feel free to discuss here, or there: http://yannigroth.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/lessons-from-the-failure-of-crowdsourcing-platform-crowdspirit/


Hi Frank, Quirky is one of our favorite co-creation platforms as well! Thanks for enlisting those 10 reasons. We've visualized its business model at:


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