Crowdsourcing, the Gulf Oil Spill and the Arrogance of BP Ross | June 25th, 2010

BP has spent $2.35 billion dollars to date to clean-up, contain and pay claims for the largest oil spill in U.S. history. They’ve established a $20 billion dollar reserve to deal with ongoing obligations and liabilities from the oil spill.

Despite BP’s efforts to stop the oil from continuing to pollute the environment, 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil continue to spill from the well. Each day.

What would you do if you were BP and received potential solutions to deal with the oil spill? Would you at the very least examine those ideas to see if some could help?

BP refused to even examine nearly one thousand potential solutions offered by the technical experts at InnoCentive, an online crowdsourcing community.

Since 2001, InnocCentive has helped companies, the public sector, non-profits, and academic institutions find innovative solutions to challenging technical problems. Innocentive has a global network of more than 200,000 engineers, scientists, inventors, and business people who are experts in physics, chemistry, math, life sciences, computer science, and many other fields.

InnoCentive started a project to help find solutions to the BP oil spill. From the project:

Recently, an explosion on an offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico caused both loss of life and a sizable and ongoing oil spill. We are asking Solvers worldwide to respond quickly with ideas and approaches to react to this very serious environmental threat.

This is an Emergency Situation Challenge and will be quite different than any other Challenge we have run on the InnoCentive website. No one has requested us to do this and InnoCentive is not getting paid to run this Challenge. We are doing it because we believe our Solver base can and will help and we will do everything we can to get solutions into the hands of the appropriate responders. This is an experiment and we believe our Solvers will answer this call for help. We believe trying to mitigate this international disaster is the right thing to do.

InnoCentive offered the proposed solutions to BP for free. Remarkably, BP refused to even look at the proposed solutions.

BP’s arrogance should be a wake-up call to all companies who refuse to embrace new technologies and new approaches to find innovative solutions to problems.

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  • OG

    understand your point, (although I have big doubts about wisdom of the crowds in general, especially when such a specialist subject).

    but a 1000 ideas.. surely the crowd should be whittling those down to provide the best, isn’t that the point of crowdsourcing? ie. letting the crowd wade through tons of crazytown to find the gem.

  • OG

    understand your point, (although I have big doubts about wisdom of the crowds in general, especially when such a specialist subject).

    but a 1000 ideas.. surely the crowd should be whittling those down to provide the best, isn’t that the point of crowdsourcing? ie. letting the crowd wade through tons of crazytown to find the gem.

  • Janis Aydelette

    This is unquestionably a catastrophe that transcends all boundaries. It seems like a great opportunity for the designers/writers/staff here at CrowdSpring to contribute in a positive way. Let’s come up with a project to raise both money and awareness for this cause, I’ll bet we have great participation.

  • Janis Aydelette

    This is unquestionably a catastrophe that transcends all boundaries. It seems like a great opportunity for the designers/writers/staff here at CrowdSpring to contribute in a positive way. Let’s come up with a project to raise both money and awareness for this cause, I’ll bet we have great participation.

  • Ross

    OG – The Innocentive Community is a technically savvy community. They’ve solves some very complex problems and actually have experience with oil spills (a prior project).

    I imagine their community will whittle down the ideas and pick some of the best. But this is tough to do without the involvement of BPs engineers.

    Janis – would love to hear any ideas…

  • Ross

    OG – The Innocentive Community is a technically savvy community. They’ve solves some very complex problems and actually have experience with oil spills (a prior project).

    I imagine their community will whittle down the ideas and pick some of the best. But this is tough to do without the involvement of BPs engineers.

    Janis – would love to hear any ideas…

  • John Dila

    That’s true, Janis. An InnoCentive Solver was responsible for providing the solution for a major part of the clean-up of the Exxon-Valdez spill (only two weeks after the challenge was posted).

    We’re currently engaged in a multi-stage whittling process: First, our own staff of specialists is reviewing the 900+ submissions we’ve received, looking for the most viable, most detailed and most innovative solutions; next, we’re working with GulfRecoveryLLC and other partners in the Gulf region to further refine the solution set to those solutions that will help most with efforts on-the-ground; and finally, we’re working to hand-off those solutions to the local authorities and community and effort organizers so they can implement the solutions.

    With an emergency/disaster situation, the channels aren’t always open and obvious, so networking with key individuals/organizations is essential. Thanks for all the thoughts.

    John Dila
    Vice President of Global Solver Community & Products, Innocentive

  • John Dila

    That’s true, Janis. An InnoCentive Solver was responsible for providing the solution for a major part of the clean-up of the Exxon-Valdez spill (only two weeks after the challenge was posted).

    We’re currently engaged in a multi-stage whittling process: First, our own staff of specialists is reviewing the 900+ submissions we’ve received, looking for the most viable, most detailed and most innovative solutions; next, we’re working with GulfRecoveryLLC and other partners in the Gulf region to further refine the solution set to those solutions that will help most with efforts on-the-ground; and finally, we’re working to hand-off those solutions to the local authorities and community and effort organizers so they can implement the solutions.

    With an emergency/disaster situation, the channels aren’t always open and obvious, so networking with key individuals/organizations is essential. Thanks for all the thoughts.

    John Dila
    Vice President of Global Solver Community & Products, Innocentive

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