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  • What is Outside Innovation?
    It’s when customers lead the design of your business processes, products, services, and business models. It’s when customers roll up their sleeves to co-design their products and your business. It’s when customers attract other customers to build a vital customer-centric ecosystem around your products and services. The good news is that customer-led innovation is one of the most predictably successful innovation processes. The bad news is that many managers and executives don’t yet believe in it. Today, that’s their loss. Ultimately, it may be their downfall.

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      Eric von Hippel coined the term "lead users" to describe a group of both customers and non-customers who are passionate about getting certain things accomplished. They may not know or care about the products or services you offer. But they do care about their project or need. Lead users have already explored innovative ways to get things done. They're usually willing to share their approaches with others.
      I use the term "lead customers" to describe the small percentage of your current customers who are truly innovative. These may not be your most vocal customers, your most profitable customers, or your largest customers. But they are the customers who care deeply about the way in which your products or services could help them achieve something they care about.
      We’ve spent the last 25 years identifying, interviewing, selecting, and grouping customers together to participate in our Customer Scenario® Mapping sessions. Over the years, we’ve learned how to identify the people who will contribute the most to a customer co-design session. These are the same kinds of people you should be recruiting when you set out to harness customer-led innovation.
      You no longer win by having the smartest engineers and scientists; you win by having the smartest customers!
      In more than 25 years of business strategy consulting, we’ve found that customer co-design is a woefully under-used capability.
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    « Watching Customer Innovation In Action | Main | Outside Innovation Book Project And Patterns »

    March 30, 2006


    dofus kamas

    Of course I would be remiss if I didn't mention my favorite mashup - Innertee!

    Patty Seybold

    Thanks for the Casino/Poker Mash Up, Mark--
    One question for you, where did you "register" this mash up so that other folks will find it? There seem to be a log of potential lists to get on. Just curious to know which one you think is the "definitive" mash ups directory...


    mark stephens

    Find the 10 closest casinos, includes driving directions and a link to their website ... we were featured here today:



    Find the 10 closest casinos. This includes driving directions and the casino's website.

    Patty Seybold

    Hi Rachelle,
    Yes I saw those Mash ups on Fidelity labs. Nice!

    Now, how about some Fidelity services like portfolio allocation, or retirement planning made available via APIs for customers to add as mash ups into their own custom toolkits? (for non-commercial use). Would the use of your brand experience be too hard to police?


    Rachelle Robin

    Fidelity Investments is also using mashups via beta projects leveraging Google Local.

    Users can access Investor Centers throughout the US, complete with a photo of the location:

    Users can access the sales prices of homes within MA, CT and RI (with planned expansion to cover the entire US):

    Jeffrey McManus

    Hi Patty!

    Following on our email exchange:

    Here are some other (less squicky than child molesters) examples to illustrate the power of maps mash-ups:

    Our own (Yahoo!) directory of maps (and other) applications went into alpha last week, it's at

    You can find 10,000+ Yahoo! Widgets at

    Re: "A number of converging trends enabled the mash up phenomenon: the emergence of open and human-readable application interfaces (APIs), using protocols like eXtensible Mark Up Language (XML), the widespread syndication of information (newsfeeds, databases, etc.) through Really Simple Syndication (RSS), and an Internet social etiquette that strongly promotes “opening up” applications and information for re-use and re-mixing. At the same time (2005), the tools and services for developing and combining Web applications were becoming easier to use. You don’t have to be a programmer to create a mash up. You don’t need formal training. You can figure out how to create your own mash ups pretty quickly by reading a few “how to’s” on the Web. The smartest companies are the ones creating end-user-level tools that will enable your grandmother to create her own mash ups!"

    The key is for the user to NOT know that XML and RSS are there. Otherwise, we've lost the battle already.

    Re: "But what about the rest of you? Why aren’t we all publishing consumable services? Many of us DO publish RSS subscriptions of information and blogs. That’s the first step. The next step is to publish your APIs and to provide a couple of sample mash ups to give people ideas about what services you offer and how they could fit into their lives and work."

    Although for businesses, the dilemma here becomes how do you administer? How do you secure services? How do you prevent abuse? How do you provide support to developers using any programming language (and, potentially, any spoken language)? How do you rate limit and how do you ensure that the services you publish support your business objectives?

    Frank Piller

    Great post (as always)! Just before reading it, I wrote today a small posting ( on Innertee on my blog -- a new site that makes remixing (mashing up) to the core idea of a new t-shirt customization business: They mix up elements of Spreadshirt, Threadless, Zazzle and CafePress into a new business idea.


    Great post. There are a ton of new mashup type services springing up everyday. I think you are right-on with your statement about mashups taking off in a big way.

    There's already... - job search mashup - parking mashup

    And there are a TON of new real estate mashups out there or on the way. Alot of the 'first round' mashups are mapping related but now with compaines like AOL even opening up their API's for AIM it could be really interesting to see what people come up with.

    Of course I would be remiss if I didn't mention my favorite mashup - Innertee!

    We are very close to launch and are allowing people to mashup their art & designs with other art and designs on apparel products to create some really interesting mashups that they can purchase and share with friends.

    Pete Cashmore also covers a lot of mashup happenings at his blog

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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