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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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    « Where's Your Profile Online? | Main | New York's Metropolitan Museum's Customer Contributions »

    April 20, 2009


    Patty Seybold

    I'm glad you noticed my point about observing patterns in the cloud as a way to capture customers' intent, needs and innovations.

    I look forward to meeting you in NY! (although I now have a conflict and may not be there...sigh....)

    Andrea Meyer

    Thanks for this post and the idea of watching customers in the cloud to inform innovation and new product development. You might like my March 13 post on this idea:

    I'm looking forward to meeting you at the World Innovation Forum next month as a fellow blogger. I've been your fan since 1985, when I started working at IBM and first learned about Patricia Seybold Reports. Thank you for all the insights you provide!

    Patty Seybold

    Re: Oracle and MySQL, here's a link to an interview posted on today with MySQL's founder,Mårten Mickos:

    Patty Seybold

    Just realized that one major casualty of this merger may be MySQL-- the open source database that was giving Oracle a run for its money and which was acquired by Sun. The MySQL founders/employees must be aghast that they are falling into the hands of the enemy!

    Will Oracle bury MySql?? I can't see them investing in it nor can I see the open source community rallying around it once it becomes an Oracle property!

    Dan Keldsen

    Another way to phrase the differences in culture between the two are open vs. closed - literally.

    Sun's acquisition of MySQL last year was a controversial topic due to potential cultural differences between Sun and the MySQL crew, even though the open source or at least "collaborative" nature of both organizations had some synergy.

    As you say, the gulf is much wider between the Sun and Oracle cultures, which makes for very choppy waters in joining the two into a bigger/better beast.

    Culture clash = near certain decimation of value of the acquisition.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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