Consumer participation is the future

Consumer of participation is the future

We will not be able to solve climate problems or cope with poverty alone. Just like creating an innovative product. We understand what participation is and how participation helps to multiply resources of the organisation.

Today, we are all creators and contributors. Through social platforms, we write posts, capture photos and videos, and even produce music, sharing our thoughts and experiences with the world. This democratization of content creation has broken down the barriers that once separated cultural elites from the masses.

What is a culture of participation?

Technology continues to accelerate change, and sometimes this leads to serious problems that are too big for one person or a single organization to cope with. The solution lies in a culture of participation, or participation, and open innovation.

Participation brings a person who was previously only a consumer closer to the position of a producer. Collaborating, people are able to find more effective and innovative solutions. For example, let’s take the open source code — it is a text written using a programming language that another person can use for free. Open source allows you to integrate ready-made effective solutions of thousands of specialists around the world into new products: affordable programs, new useful applications and error-free websites. Another example, open medical data is changing the relationship between patient and doctor.

Participation gives access to the collective mind, helps to better formulate the real needs and problems that people are concerned about and use this information to create new products and services.

Consumer as a co-author of the product

A culture of participation and communities has been described in the 2000s by the American philosopher and culturologist Henry Jenkins. He insists that development of technologies and social media is an unprecedented cultural experience where everyone becomes an author.

We all produce content: we write posts, shoot photos and videos, record music, filling the digital environment with our own thoughts and experiences. Previously, this was only available to cultural elites, but thanks to technology, it is becoming a thing of the past and everyone can enjoy it.

In doing so, we not only produce customized products, but also team up with other people. For example, people create fan communities to interact with the author and formulate a request for the content they need. If such a community is a core of the target audience and does not ask for something beyond, most likely, the author will meet halfway. So a person can create his own product in complicity with other people and the author of the original content.

Nike invites customers to participate in the design of their sneakers. A user is offered ready-made models of shoes and elements that can be changed: from the colour and material of the lining to the laces.

Collective intelligence to solve the global problems of the company

Microsoft is one of the first companies to realize that the old top-down approach to innovation needs to be changed. The company decided to move away from the premise that only executives and innovation departments can come up with good ideas — so, they created a special center called "The Garage".

The purpose of the center is to encourage employees and direct the organization on the path of innovation. If an employee sees something that can be improved, he does not have to wait for someone else to notice and fix it — he can go to The Garage and develop his idea.

At first, the center organized a special hackathon for employees, but it became obvious that it was not enough for people to simply implement their own ideas — they want to help solve the global problems that the company is facing.

Power of the local community

The culture of participation changes the passive role of the consumer to the role of the actor. This is true not only for online spaces and local communities. Participation is a civil and collective practice that helps to solve the problems of residents of local territories. A simple example is crowdfunding support for public and charitable initiatives. For example, landscaping, creating public spaces or helping other people. By joint efforts, residents can solve problems that bother them, but do not attract the attention of official authorities.

Crowdfunding helps to bring together a large number of interested people, represent their interests, use resources and multiply by the resources of the project itself. For example, initially Facebook was a social network of one campus, but over time it has grown into one of the main tools of modern communication. There are many such small projects, and they all need help.

Harnessing and developing the creative potential of billions of people around the world will determine the pace of human progress in the future. Therefore, it is important for a modern person not only to passively consume, but also to create something of their own.