When you need a brochure, you could find designers in the phone book, evaluate their portfolios, check references, pick one, and cross your fingers, hoping you made the right choice.

Or you could crowdsource: Put the requirements of the task online, along with how much you’re willing to pay, and let anyone interested try his hand. You can then browse the samples and pick the one you like best.

But crowdsourcing doesn’t end there. The same idea can bring customers into the product design process. For online products, companies can let users test prototypes and beta versions, and make adjustments based on the feedback. The conversation between users and developers will get better products on the market faster.

Crowdsourcing means “getting access to millions of ‘brains’ around the world (‘the global brain’) without having to employ millions of brains.

Photo by Getty Images.

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