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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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    May 06, 2008


    Patty Seybold

    Thanks for your question. I'm sure others have the same reaction...The partnership between FIRST and the Girl Scouts is still being executed. And from the Girl Scouts' perspective, they want the "pull" to come from the local Girl Scout Councils rather than having the program foisted on them by the National organization. There's some Web site development going on on both sides which will take a while to update.. I recommended that they simply do a FIRST/GIRL Scouts Resources blog/ a way to get things going.. (volunteers are welcome to help!)

    The link which formally describes the relationship can be found here:

    If you would like to learn more about starting a FIRST team at any age level, contact Suman Sabastin at Girl Scouts of the USA [email protected]. Resources are currently being produced for those who wish to start new teams and an official GSUSA-FIRST participation patch is also being designed for any Girl Scouts that are on any existing FIRST teams, ranging from JFLL to FRC.

    Be on the lookout for those patches!

    Todd Biske


    Do you any links to where we can get more information about this partnership? My oldest daughter is in a brownie troop and I'd love to pass this along to the troop leaders.

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