06/09/2010 02:36 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Crowd Sourcing a Resolution for the Gulf of Mexico

At 11:00  PM EST, on Tuesday, April 20, 2010, off the Gulf of Mexico, 11 workers died when British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. The explosion, which occurred 52 miles southeast of the Louisiana port of Venice, unleashed an oil spill that remains unconstrained.

In times of crisis, speed is everything; nothing is faster than crowd-sourced 2.0 problem-solving. Yet BP seems committed to problem-solving the 1.0 way.

--Anthea Stratigos, CEO Outsell

The value in solving problems though crowd-sourcing is a superior instrument to "problem-solving the 1.0 way." This is in no way some new fancy method of problem resolution -- sharing information in the scientific community is core to their DNA. Disclosing problem information to outside solvers has been an effective method of resolving problems. The core reason why problem solving, in this manner, is so effective is because it attracts specialized solvers. These are professionals with the specific skill set necessary to resolve the issue.

Unfortunately, there is one major hindrance to crowd-sourcing -- a lack of transparency. The lack of openness is in part fueled by the need to protect intellectual property and financial investments. Some may argue that this is the reason why British Petroleum has not embraced crowd-sourced problem-solving.

Anthea intimately understands the value that unrestricted information sharing can have in resolving issues. She is very concerned that BP seems to be dismissing this valuable resource. Anthea explains that InnoCentive has positioned its crowd-sourcing platform in an attempt to provide a set of resolutions to the BP problem solving process. This outside solver challenge is being facilitated by Innocentive's Ideation Challenge. This challenge is part of the company's Emergency Response 2.0 Pavilion.

Leading this effort is InnoCentive's CEO Dwayne Spradlin. Unfortunately, while there are 2099 solvers working on how to stop and clean up the oil spill, BP has not been receptive to the help. Stratigos points me to a Weather Channel interview that shows an aggravated Spradlin pleading to BP to apply InnoCentive's resources to the problem.

The most frustrating thing to me is getting British Petroleum to listen. We are trying to pressure them to look at these other solutions that are coming in from oil rig engineers. But this is not BP's problem anymore -- it belongs to all of us now.

--Dwayne Spradlin, CEO InnoCentive

It seems like such an obvious answer -- accept InnoCentive's help. As I continued to speak with Dwayne it became clear why he said that this is no longer BP's responsibility. This BP-made disaster can not be solved by BP --  it can only be solved through the collective engagement of the problem information. I am hoping that Tony Hayward is listening.