My Photo


  • 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.

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter


      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.
    AddThis Social Bookmark Button


    November 16, 2006


    Patty Seybold

    Great Points! I agree that the brand is the feelings triggered in the customer--that's what I mean by customer experience. I would submit that its' the WHOLE experience, not just the experience with the product itself.

    I also agree with you that each customer audience/segment/group has a different way they care about and interpret the brand promise--usually as it relates to their self-image and/or to what they care about...

    That makes this co-creation thing so fascinating... Our job as company execs (marketers, heads of customer support, heads of R&D, head of operations) is to be authentic and truthful about the brand experience we are trying to deliver and to respond in the dance with our customers as they shape and re-shape the experience they WANT us to be offering surrounding our products and services...And I agree that different customer groups have different expectations.. that's why we try to get into customers' heads--to understand their different scenarios (what they're trying to accomplish and what they care about) vis a vis our brands.




    I prefer Tom Asacker's definition of a brand: the feelings and associated physical state that a product triggers in a customer.

    In other words, a "real" brand is what the customer thinks it is, not what the marketer says it is. If the marketer thinks it is an apple, but the customer things it is a lemon, then it is a lemon. Period.

    The challnge for marketers is to recognise that there are different groups of customers who have similar perceptions of what a brand really is (communities?). That doesn't mean that their carefully crafted messages need to be thrown away. But it does mean that the messages should be customised in a way appropriate for each of the groups.

    And equally important, that the organisation is able to deliver against the promises made by the communications. Unfortunately, that rarely happens.
    Research suggests that 80% of customers DO NOT expect brand communications' promises to be kept. And 80% of them are still disappointed when they aren't.

    Graham Hill

    Patty Seybold

    Hi Randy--
    Why are you assuming that the term "brand" means large commercial brands? To me a brand is the customer experience that customers have when they interact with a company, its products and the customer community that surrounds it. The company may be tiny. It doesn't need to be Coca-Cola. The customer community may BE the customer experience that young people (and us old fogies) care the most about.

    Customer-created content keeps you authentic--it keeps you aligned with what customers actually care about, rather than what you are trying to foist on them.


    Patty Seybold

    Good catch, Graham!
    I didn't mean for that plug to be there. I'll remove it.. And you're right, the pricing for our social networking primer is bogus. That's simply the bar we set between content that is free to all comers and content that is written for our paid subscriber base who get access to all our content and do not pay by the report.

    Thanks for catching this! Patty



    I am disappointed.

    At first you extol the virtues of lead-user co-creation through your LeadUserCamp. Great. Then you move on to C-types getting the 2.0 bug and causing havoc in the eBiz group. Great. Then you move on to pumping your Primer on Social Networking at a whopping USD$795 for a very thin 13 pages. Sorry, but that's just poor!

    Why would anyone pay USD$795 for a primer when you can get it all for free off the Internet (just take a look at Slideshare to see what I mean), or if they are too strapped for time to do that, can get it from the man himself, Tim O'Reilly, through his "Why Web 2.0 Matters" report for only USD$375 for a very satisfying 101 pages.

    I do like the stuff you talk about. It is good to have someone smart beating the drum for customers. But I am disappointed by the sales pitch.

    Graham Hill


    Patty I can not comprehend your statement that customer created content is there to help shape your brand. It is there to subvert the tired and stogy old concept of brand, turn it on its head and kick it to the curb. Web 2.0 is all about extending personal reach and furthering interpersonal connection. To suggest that web 2.0 concepts were gifted to large brands for the purposes of burning their mark onto the digital flesh of the population is laughable. ha ha ha. The kids that buy into this content creation model are interested in the people not the product. Marketers have inundated us with brands, marks, advertisements and the like that we are near blind to them. Thank you for searing my eyes so that I can no longer perceive your attempts to get my attention.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

    Patricia Seybold Group Web Site

    RSS 2.0 Feeds
    PSGroup New Research
    Add the latest research to Google
    Add the latest research to My Yahoo!

    Your email address:

    Powered by FeedBlitz


    • Google Analytics for Blog
    Blog powered by Typepad