HUMANITARIAN CROWD-SOLVING

What is Humanitarian Crowd-Solving?

The Problem

Non-profits and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) exist to solve hard problems that exist outside of the purview of profit-seeking companies and governments.   They dedicate all of their efforts to raising funds from donors and expending those funds toward their stated mission.  

This mission focus is usually short-term and transactional - how many people can be helped with the greatest efficiency?  All employees focus on doing their job in the best way possible.  

On occasion, it is likely that every employee stops and thinks, "Wait!"  "Stop!"  "Is there a better way to do these tasks?"  But the pressure of the 'urgent' overwhelms these thoughts and they carry on with the current processes.

The Solution

Humanitarian Crowd-Solving is an extremely efficient process to allow leaders of these organizations to invite help on their hardest problems.  They get skilled help in defining the root problem that, if solved, would lead to great benefit in delivering their mission.  Then they can bring this problem to the entire world (the "global crowd") to seek new thinking from people from all walks of life and from all countries of the world.  After reviewing submissions, the humanitarian organization can decide which ones to engage with for implementation.

Examples of our work for Habitat for Humanity and World Vision are detailed here.

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What is Humanitarian Crowd-Solving?

The Problem

Non-profits and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) exist to solve hard problems that exist outside of the purview of profit-seeking companies and governments.   They dedicate all of their efforts to raising funds from donors and expending those funds toward their stated mission.  

This mission focus is usually short-term and transactional - how many people can be helped with the greatest efficiency?  All employees focus on doing their job in the best way possible.  

On occasion, it is likely that every employee stops and thinks, "Wait!"  "Stop!"  "Is there a better way to do these tasks?"  But the pressure of the 'urgent' overwhelms these thoughts and they carry on with the current processes.

The Solution

Humanitarian Crowd-Solving is an extremely efficient process to allow leaders of these organizations to invite help on their hardest problems.  They get skilled help in defining the root problem that, if solved, would lead to great benefit in delivering their mission.  Then they can bring this problem to the entire world (the "global crowd") to seek new thinking from people from all walks of life and from all countries of the world.  After reviewing submissions, the humanitarian organization can decide which ones to engage with for implementation.

Examples of our work for Habitat for Humanity and World Vision are detailed here.

The Benefits

We have seen three categories of benefits for the global humanitarian organizations that have worked with SeaFreight Labs on crowd-solving.  They are:

  1. Unexpected solutions.  An executive sponsor that initiates a crowd-solving engagement hopes for a positive outcome but since the whole process of innovation is risky, it is best to harbor minimal expectations.  When a completed challenge that aimed to solve a difficult problem leads to a solution that deserves field testing, it is a moment of great celebration.  

  2. Enhanced community and donor engagement.  The process of judging 10-50 quality challenge submissions is a great opportunity to invite participation from existing partners and new outside organizations.  It also demonstrates that the humanitarian organization is willing to take calculated risks to further their mission and this positioning is attractive to a certain type of donor.

  3. Employee engagement.  Employees across the entire organization are eager to help suggest ideas for crowd-solving, define the challenge, and judge submissions.  Everyone can see that tapping into the expertise of the global crowd has the potential to dramatically improve how the mission is pursued and they want to contribute in any way they can. 

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SeaFreight Labs serves in a "Project Advisor" role on the projects.  A humanitarian organization contracts directly with InnoCentive for all of the basic crowd-solving services.  SeaFreight Labs serves as a 'coach' and advisor to help the humanitarian organization get the most out of each challenge by participating as a full team member in all crowd-solving activities.  We provide coordination, facilitation, promotion and support services to our humanitarian partners to help drive each challenge to an impactful outcome.  This role allows us to proactively prevent common errors of beginners to the process of crowd-solving while also helping the team do effective internal project planning and management.

Click HERE to download a one-page process flow for a typical crowd-solving project.

 

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Crowd-Solving "Funnel" from a Recent Challenge

How Does SeaFreight Labs Facilitate Humanitarian

Crowd-Solving?

What Does SeaFreight Have to Do with Humanitarian

Non-Profits? 

It's an obvious question.  Why would a company focused on seafreight and logistics be involved with humanitarian crowd-solving?  

The idea of offering this service began in the early days of the 2020 global pandemic.  We had recently joined the Pledge-1% movement (read our press release HERE) and were brainstorming how to put our new commitment into practice.  We quickly realized that our crowd-solving capabilities could be of value beyond the seafreight and logistics industries and reached out to global organizations with which our team had donor relationships.  Habitat for Humanity and World Vision were willing to try out the concept and this was the beginning of the participation of the seafreight industry in humanitarian crowd-solving! 

We hope to continue this type of work long into the future.

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Need more details? Contact us.
SeaFreight Labs is a consultancy delivering crowd-solving services to the global seafreight community.  We serve as "Project Advisor" on global challenges to cost effectively deliver breakthrough innovation to intractable problems.