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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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    August 18, 2008


    Matthew Lees


    Yes...we sure will be looking at the measurement of social media initiatives, wherever customer/brand interactions occur (i.e., in the company-sponsored community or elsewhere on the Web). Our focus will be on measuring the Impact -- we're in sync with you on the use of the "I" word -- on the business of such initiatives (as opposed to activity and "health" metrics, which do have their place, but are peripheral to what really matters).

    - Matthew

    Bryan Person, LiveWorld

    Thank you for mentioning our integrated Facebook application. We think it can help companies such as Neutrogena meet the precise challenge that you mention: engaging with their customers or having them connect with each other in the places where they're already spending time online. Another challenge for those companies, too, is tracking and measuring the impact/results of those conversations and interactions on external sites and social networks.

    Might this be something you'll cover in a follow-up post?

    Chuck Van Court

    I think that most now agree that for content to remain effective and pertinent, it must actively include the insights of the people internal and external to an organization who actively use the content. Approaches that merely put a search engine over knowledge base and community generated content don’t work since the inherent deficiencies of either content remains. What is needed is knowledge base technology whose content has brand implications and requires editorial controls to put the proven Web 2.0 techniques into their technology, providing a truly collaborative KB 2.0 that leverages the wisdom of their community.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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