When discussing using mob rule or crowdsourcing within organizations for staff training, strategic directions, or problem solving, there is one challenge that arises often. During my session at Internet Librarian, it came up again.
These ideas are great, but people in my organization say they can’t talk freely in front of management. How do we use these ideas in this environment?
The answer is simple: Remove the managers from the room.
Crowdsourcing works best when everyone can be given equal footing. When you have a situation where people can not leave the organizational chart at the door, for whatever reason, you need to do what you can to remove those structures.
In order for a mob top solve a problem well, they have to be able to share, to offer solutions, and criticism free of the things within your organization that have thus far prevented you from finding the solution through traditional means.
Remove the managers from the room, but put a great facilitator in there with the rest of the mob. The facilitator can be internal, but it should be someone who will be able to keep the group focused and be able to report back to management with some kind of reliable authority.
Reliable authority means that the mob trusts that their words and ideas will be conveyed truthfully and someone management trusts to keep the mob from burning down the organization entirely.
If you are using mob rule for something which requires input from management, then have management engage in their own mob discussion. Add the two parts together and see where the junctions lead. At the least, the junctions can serve as great starting points when you do get the mob back in the room with their managers.
–Jane, a reliable authority