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The Crowdsourcing Revolution at KPMG: How to Harness the Power of the People

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At a session, titled at KMWorld 2012, Ian Coyne (now with Russell Reynolds Associates) began by asking, “What is the difference between a banana and pretty much every other fruit.” He then promised to explain why that question started a crowdsourcing revolution at KPMG.

In 2010, Coyne and a fellow KPMG consultant emerged from a meeting with a luxury ice cream maker with a problem to be solved. How could that manufacturer make banana ice cream more quickly and efficiently? At the time, the company was employing college students to peel bananas, and it wasn’t effective.

Having no idea how to solve the problem, they sent out an email to around 100 of their colleagues at KPMG. Here’s how it went:

Hello Everyone,

David and I were at a client yesterday and they asked us this question, “We use 100s of bananas in our production process and right now the most efficient way to do it is to employ people to do it by hand. What ideas do you have to help them in this process?” Any ideas welcome!!

Please let us have your ideas by Friday.

The good news the next morning was that they had 40 responses. The bad news was that most had to do with employing monkeys.

But then a new employee, with a food science background, replied with something that made some sense. Put a banana in a vacuum and under a certain pressure and it will “pop.” So they took the idea to their client. While it didn’t pan out, the client applauded the effort and the processes KPMG employed to solve their dilemma.

That first attempt at crowdsourcing led to many others and a big change in the way KPMG works to solve problems for their clients. To hear more of the story, you can view Ian Coynes entire presentation below. You can also visit our video portal for additional videos from KMWorld 2012.

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