The creativity of the crowds

Here’s a good, brief piece in the NYT (Here’s an Idea: Let Everyone Have Ideas) on how the futures market approach (see the Iowa Electronic Markets for an example of tapping the wisdom of the crowd to predict political and economic events, and also futures exchange) to predicting future events can be used to select ideas from the company’s suggestion box–by letting the employees predict which ones will have an impact. This could be one of the more revolutionary approaches to managing creativity because it focuses not on helping people have better ideas, but helping management see and back the good ideas an organization already has:

[The founders of Rite-Solutions, a SW company, launched] an internal market where any employee can propose that the company acquire a new technology, enter a new business or make an efficiency improvement. These proposals become stocks, complete with ticker symbols, discussion lists and e-mail alerts. Employees buy or sell the stocks, and prices change to reflect the sentiments of the company’s engineers, computer scientists and project managers — as well as its marketers, accountants and even the receptionist.