Crowdsourcing is an open process that invites feedback from an entire range of people who, by virtue of their participation, become contributors to the solution.  The premise is that by tapping into the collective intelligence of a large and diverse group of people to complete business-related tasks, we gain deeper insight into what customers really want, perform better in the marketplace and increase the potential for added revenue.


Taking their cues from pioneering companies in technology as well as traditional industries, the authors of “The Social Side of Strategy,” Arne Gast and Michele Zanini, in a May 2012 article in the McKinsey Quarterly, discuss the benefits of crowdsourcing to the strategic planning process.

Diverse Perspectives
Companies such as 3M and AEGON are reinvigorating their strategy development by replacing the tried and true with a more experimental, participatory “social strategy” in which self-organizing teams bring diverse perspectives to strategic direction setting, both online and offline, often including an undefined public that is also tapped for its ideas.

While law firms may bristle at the idea of such a concept, there are, nevertheless, lessons that can be learned and applied from an environment where many claim that the power of the crowd is driving the future of business.

The authors show the readily apparent benefits that result from engaging these disparate points of view:

  • Quality of the strategy increases
  • Resulting plans are “more insightful and actionable
  • Enhanced “enthusiasm and alignment” behind a company’s strategic direction
  • Increased likelihood to “spot emerging opportunities or threats that require quick adjustments”

Tangible business results?

One executive claimed a fivefold increase in sales to an important client.  He credited the success to crowdsourcing and its emphasis on “the need to reframe the business plan . . . toward a handful of new services” where the company had “the edge over larger competitors.”  Another company boasted a pipeline of new products that now accounts for one-fifth of their revenue.


This is relevant to law firms that have Client Service Teams or bring a collaborative approach to strategic planning.  We are referring to self-organized, interdisciplinary, collaborative groups dedicated to developing innovative ways to increase client satisfaction – the underpinning of client loyalty – by understanding and anticipating clients’ priorities, concerns and pain points.  By gathering data and pooling new insights, they can more fully align their interests with those of their clients to engender more enduring relationships and increase competitive advantage.

Is there a missed opportunity here?   I believe the answer is sometimes  “yes.”

Imagine the creativity and insight if the team were to include the untapped collective intelligence of paralegals, administrative assistants, interns, file clerks, billing clerks and even others beyond the firms’ walls, for example, their advertising and web site strategy agencies.  And, as many firms do, clients!

Evidence shows that such inclusive teams propose new ways to be cheaper, faster, smarter internally and in service delivery, and often voluntarily reconfigure job descriptions to take on expanded responsibilities.

This redefinition of strategic planning can distinguish your firm from competitors who do not embrace an open, inclusive process, and move the client relationship from one of satisfaction to highly coveted client loyalty.   

What do you need to do now to get started?

  • √  Identify 1-2 things on which you need feedback
  • √  Pinpoint the population you need to include
  • √  Craft and create the process to pull together the collective voices