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When Yamaha conducts research to drive product development, they’ve found opportunities in previously unexplored areas of incremental change. Learn more in this podcast interview.

A few years ago, I listened to an episode of This American Life called “In Defense of Ignorance” about the Dunning-Kruger effect. I had never heard of Dunning-Kruger before, but came to learn that it’s a cognitive bias that makes people with low ability think that they have high levels of ability. Why does that happen? Essentially, because we know an insufficient amount of information on a given topic, we don’t have enough evidence to be able to appropriately judge our own abilities.

I found that I was haunted by this research. That means that at any given time, I could be stepping into the shadow of my own ignorance, but I won’t know it. This impacts how I run a company, how I parent, how I pick out clothes! If I think I’m doing something well there are two possibilities: I’m either very good at it or I’m remarkably terrible at it. I suddenly felt very vulnerable, but finally came to realize that there is a way out of this conundrum.

In fact, though, the radio host during that segment pointed out that “other people can see when we’re doing the Dunning-Kruger dance, but we can’t.”

That’s why research is so important, why customer empathy is such a trending topic. Asking for diverse feedback from a variety of voices is one of the easiest ways to correct for our own blind spots. But even the research we conduct can reveal our own assumptions, the questions that we ask reflect the things that we know (or think we know), but they don’t account for other people’s experiences, potential changes in trends and requirements and this has always been a challenge for research and development groups. But there is a way around this, as well.

In a recent interview, Ben Israel, Planning and Development Manager for Yamaha, stated that “when you’re doing a survey, you’re shining a light on the areas that you’re interested in. When you have something like an IdeaScale platform, the customers themselves … get to shine a light on what they’re interested in. And sometimes that can be like, Oh, I did not think of that. And that’s kind of what we’re looking for.”

So what are the differences between traditional survey methods and ideas crowdsourcing?

  • In a survey, the communication is mono-directional, but when crowdsourcing ideas, the conversation is multi-directional. It can go in unexpected directions or it can confirm lines of questioning that you anticipated. And anyone can create that conversation – the researchers themselves, but also the members of the community.
  • In a survey, you can gather a fixed set of data on questions you already know you have. With crowdsourcing, you can gather data on unforeseen trends and ideas.
  • In a survey, participants can only augment one another’s data, but with crowdsourcing, participants can actually improve or co-develop solutions.  In this way, ideas become project-ready faster.
  • A survey or a focus group is time-limited, but a crowdsourcing community allows brands to build an ongoing relationship.

Those are just a few of the differences, but to listen to the full story about how Yamaha collaborates with customers, listen to the podcast interview here.

About the Author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.

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