Mass collaboration and open innovation models are widely employed on “new economy” segments. Just think about Linux and the open source phenomenon or companies like Amazon.com and IBM that created products with the inputs of external developer communities.
What if we could bring this model into traditional manufacturing industries, though? That is exactly what Goldcorp, a Toronto-based mining company, did. According to a BusinessWeek article the company managed to get out of financial troubles by sharing its knowledge base and collaborating with people all around the world.
In order to improve its methods for locating gold deposits the company created a challenge where participants would submit ideas, and the best entries would receive prizes. All the participants were also given access to the complete geological data collected by Goldcorp through the years. Here is a quote from the article: “Within weeks, submissions from around the world were flooding into Goldcorp headquarters. There were entries from graduate students, management consultants, mathematicians, military officers, and a virtual army of geologists.”
The interesting thing about that story is that Goldcorp applied a counter-intuitive reasoning to improve its profitability. Business schools teach people to defend the proprietary knowledge fiercely, but Goldcorp generated billions of dollar by doing exactly the opposite.
You can read the full article here.