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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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    « THE NEXT DISRUPTORS | Main | What’s the Value of Customer-Contributed Content? $1.65 Billion! »

    October 08, 2006


    Patty Seybold

    Thanks for your support. Nice to have a testimonial.

    I know that Outside Innovation provides tips folks can use because most of my clients (who have been reading and commenting on my draft chapters for the past year) have already implemented many of the patterns and techniques highlighted in the book.

    For some folks, these approaches to engaging customers may seem "obvious" but I think that's because I pulled most of the patterns together into a coherent framework. That's what authors do!

    The BIG idea.. is simple: engage with lead customers AND focus on customers' ideal outcomes. The former is not hard. The latter is amazingly difficult for most organizations to actually do!


    Kare Anderson

    ... and you've probably read Publishers Weekly's less-than-glowing review of Mindset

    Kare Anderson

    Ironically it was your point in your book to "focus on your lead customers" that I advocated to my audience of people in different parts of the construction industry - and recommended YOUR book because it was the most specific and research-based - and this groups expects "practical" and "prove it to me" ideas.

    Kudos to you on your thoughtful response to the review. Reinforces your themes in the book in so doing.
    - Kare

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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