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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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    « It’s SOA Time: Do You Know What Services Your Customers Need? | Main | What Frightened Customers Want to Hear »

    September 16, 2008


    Malcolm Wicks

    It is somewhat ironic that a game which is all about development, grow and spreading around the world is embroiled in making it difficult for people to play.

    It seems to me that the developers are totally product centric and do not understand what customers really value. With a better understanding of what customer value I'm sure that new and original ways for the developers to make money will appear. Its obvious that they can not win with their current ways of operating.

    Patty Seybold

    Thanks, Christian,
    I agree that EA (and other gaming companies) have a LOT to learn about how to handle this issue. I find it really sad that the people who were most enthusiastic about SPORE pre-launch now refuse to buy it!

    Christian Olsson

    This is a terrible story for 2 parties - legitimate users who simply wanted to play Spore and couldn't because the activation servers went down and EA because Spore was cracked even before it was released.

    Often developers walk a tightrope with the tradeoff between protection strength and the degree of impact on legitimate users but this was a failure on both dimensions! Is this really what the publisher wants to 'accomplish'? Why not use a solution which is friendly to honest users, has no impact on development time and the strongest available protection against crackers - see the whitepaper "Is Anti-Piracy/DRM the Cure or the Disease for PC Games?" which can be downloaded here

    Bardo N. Nelgen

    It seems, that (despite the described hassle for the users) the mass-customization industries are really picking this up as a testbed on how to successfully mash up their own services with other customizable experiences.

    Already got your favourite SPORE character on a customizable t-shirt (or mum's apron) ?


    Disclaimer: I'm currently an employee to ;-)

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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