Collaborative Production 101

Collaborative_Productions-1321917615Collaborative production is essentially the principle that businesses should collaborate to develop a product or solve a problem. In doing so, they can take advantage of more diverse and readily available resources, while also being thoughtful about how that project relates to the community to which the businesses belong. One of the most visible methods of collaborative production is crowd-sourcing, a concept you may already be familiar with. The general idea is that a larger project is broken up into much smaller task increments, and the workload is then distributed across hundreds, thousands, sometimes even millions of individuals. A good example of crowd-sourcing is the reCAPTCHA project, out of Carnegie Mellon University. When you are prompted to identify words on a website to prove you are not an android, you’re actually doing more than just verifying your human brain. That’s right! Rather than just an extra step between you and that online account, those words are actually a doubly purposed crowd-sourcing tool that uses your eyes to read what digital scanners can’t. The words you see are generated from real texts that are being scanned for searchable use in digital libraries. (Read more about this incredible project here.) The most tantalizing crowd-sourcing projects are multi-purpose, and some extraordinary ones even make a game out of it. Step right over here to see a great example of a fun and innovative crowd-sourcing project. Crowd-sourcing is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to collaborative production. Businesses and organizations are starting to see the advantage of working together to solve large problems—or develop large products. When individuals and communities start collaborating to combine skills, resources, and ideas, the result is an efficient product that reflects the needs of the community that produced it. Collaborative production has larger implications for businesses and sustainability because not only do the participating organizations have access to a shared knowledge base, but they can also take advantage of a larger variety of skills and resources. Rather than having to contract with an outside vendor for a specific product or skill, the businesses that partner together towards a common project can simply reach from within. When individuals and businesses from a community share resources, they also have a stake in the product being created. Collaborative communities decide what the community most needs, and then use the resources of partnering businesses to develop those projects. Collaborative production does require a fair amount of creativity and innovation; but when it works, it can be a beautifully efficient process that drives community resources right back into the businesses that produced them.

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