Crowdsourcing: Diversity and Inclusion in Innovation

On June 25, 2021, the president signed an Executive Order (EO) to advance diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in the Federal workforce. The EO “charges all agencies with assessing the current state of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within their workforces and developing strategic plans to eliminate any barriers to success faced by underserved employees.” IdeaScale customers know that crowdsourcing provides a unique and powerful capability for a) promoting an overall culture of DEIA within organizations, and b) developing agency strategic plans to promote DEIA.

Crowdsourcing to Promote DEIA

The saying goes, “Diversity is an invite to the party, and inclusion is being asked to dance.” Crowdsourcing is fundamentally an exercise in diversity, a proven means for inviting thoughts and perspectives from a wide swath of people. With crowdsourcing, the invite to contribute garners a batch of ideas and follow-on discussion that stretches an agency’s mental status quo. New and novel concepts are proposed and reviewed, and even if those novel ideas are dismissed today, fresh concepts enter the organization’s collective knowledge base.

Within a crowdsourcing campaign, idea collection and review is followed by development and implementation of new concepts. At best, crowdsourcing is perfectly inclusive; the idea that most-effectively addresses a given challenge is the idea that gets selected for implementation. Diversity fosters inclusion as workforce-submitted ideas are used to renew agency processes, policies, tools, and methods. Crowdsourcing uses diverse perspectives and abilities to identify new opportunities, promoting inclusion through implementation of ideas submitted by unique individuals. Members understand that leadership wants to hear their ideas, feeling included when they see their creativity and expertise being used to advance the organization.

Integrating Workforce Perspective into Strategic Planning

Crowdsourcing is also a powerful tool for strengthening the entire strategic planning process. Since strategic plans are intended to influence the next half-decade of agency policy, taking time to open a discussion with the workforce prior to drafting an agency strategy could mean the difference between an impactful document and another piece of “shelfware.” A focused discussion among the agency workforce can be a valuable form of ethnographic research ensuring new strategic goals and objectives are aligned with employee priorities.

IdeaScale offers several tools and capabilities especially useful for drafting a DEIA strategy. Challenges may be set up so that all submissions and comments are anonymous. Imagine a challenge: “Assessing our current state of DEIA: what institutional barriers must our agency overcome?” Anonymous responses to this challenge encourage unreserved sharing of common experiences, and soon common themes emerge. At the conclusion of the challenge leadership is provided ground truth regarding real struggles, and participants receive an all-important message: we want to hear from you.

When rooted in direct employee feedback, the strategic plan’s letter of promulgation begins a valid claim of legitimacy: “this document was informed by a discussion among the entire workforce regarding our agency’s barriers to inclusion.” The plan writes itself; the crowdsourcing campaign’s common themes and issues become the plan’s strategic goals. When it comes time to write the implementation plan, follow-on crowdsourcing campaigns can collect field-validated ideas that operationalize the specific goals of the strategic plan.

If you’d like to discuss opportunities to use crowdsourcing to promote DEIA, strategic plan development, innovation, or employee engagement, schedule a demo with our team today.

This article was originally published on the IdeaScale blog here.




IdeaScale is the leading innovation management software platform for the enterprise, government, and education. Gather ideas, implement them.

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IdeaScale is the leading innovation management software platform for the enterprise, government, and education. Gather ideas, implement them.

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