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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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    « People Learn from People | Main | Our Search Maven’s Reaction to Microsoft’s Bing »

    June 11, 2009


    Patty Seybold

    Apparently you missed my tongue in cheek humor, here.. But you may not be alone.. To provide better cues, I added Quotes around It's "my" design..

    My point is this: Google has the capability (as most Web service providers do) to track the behavior of users and to infer their intent.. what it is they're trying to do...I suspect that's what they've done with Wave...


    Oh, c'mon, that's just a ridiculous claim!

    Patty Seybold

    Good to hear from you again! I too have had difficulty finding the right tools for collaboration among the plethora currently available. I look forward to hearing what you think once you've been able to actually USE it!

    Would also love to hear about your latest venture! No current plans to get back to South Africa/Cape Town, but maybe I can swing by on one of my next trips to Uganda.


    Neil Hinrichsen

    Hi Patty

    Found your article interesting as I recently spent a lot of time online trying to find the ideal tool for sharing ideas online with a few friends for a new venture we're starting.

    t's surprising hard to find a good tool for this. Wikis are too document-focused - all of them have abysmal commenting facilities: limited text, no RTF editing, no live links, no threading, etc. There are some interesting online outliners, but none of these have been updated in years. Online mindmaps are promising (especially Mind42), but it's then hard to see when a node has been updated. These are all solutions that (hopefully) email you when changes occur; the other paradigm inverts this - share ideas by email, with everything being copied to a common space. 9cays has a great product here, but the security is too weak; a stronger product is cc:Betty.

    Nothing however (we hadn't thought of your way of using Gmail & chat!) really clicked for us.

    And then Google Wave was announced. Immediately I could see that it was EXACTLY what we had been looking for, and more.

    I think that Google Wave is going to take off like a rocket once people start realizing what it can do.

    cheers, Neil

    PS. would be good to see you in SA again!


    I noticed in Google's demo that they said the real-time-viewing could be disabled. It's one of those new things which might be quite unsettling to some of us, but ... there may be times where we actually like the feature! How will we know until we actually start using it!?

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