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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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    « What roles are your customers playing in shaping your business? | Main | The “New Work” of the IT Architect: Innovation Labs and Incubators »

    October 18, 2006


    Patty Seybold

    Great to hear from you! Hope things are still going well for you at Toro. Yes, I've seen the Oracle tools in a demo as well. They look promising. Let me know when you've had a chance to try them out!


    Patty Seybold

    Thanks for the pointer to Caspio Bridge and A great find and definitely a good example of the genre I'm looking for!


    Patty Seybold

    Thanks Graham,
    I love this marketplace concept. I have a number of clients who have availed themselves of matching coding needs to people who can do the work quickly and well.


    Cassian Lee


    Oracle Application Express allows users to build dynamic web applications without programming. We have seen a demo and it was pretty impressive. The drawback is it only works with an Oracle database.

    Dave Parsi


    You may find Caspio Bridge at exactly what you are describing. It's been available since 2001 for SMBs as well as the enterprise.



    Not quite 'Apps for Dummies', however Rent a Coder - - provides an open market to match anybody looking for small pieces of customer code and anyone looking to write them.

    Graham Hill

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