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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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    « Google Wave: It’s "My" Design, but Will I Use It? | Main | Whose Data Is It? Who “Owns” Your Medical Records? »

    June 15, 2009



    P.S. I scrolled up and re-read Susan's excellent article about BING. Inspired by her description of the beautiful BING interface, I went back and opened it.

    The background today is a nice, vivid, hi-def picture of the Moon, with several hotspot overlays. Somewhere from the deep recesses of my subconscious, I had the thought that it would be really cool if somehow the image of the moon could be rendered in 3D, and the hotspots could be little identifying markers identifying the places where men landed on the sphere. It would be really cool if I could zoom in enough to see some details. Maybe even see the base of a lunar module still there. I wonder if Microsoft, or maybe another search engine company, will ever develop anything that advanced.


    Quick follow up regards textile digital printing. (How off topic can a commenter get? Glad this format of communication is still pretty unrestricted. No offense or disrespect intended. I am willing to BING this concept if necessary...)

    Anyway - I asked the universe via you guys for information about "the ability to print onto silk using what looks like an architect's laser printer," and then I waited. On my next visit to Barnes and Nobles, the universe put all of the answers, politely printed and stylishly published, on prominent display in the digital photography section.

    "Digital Textile Design" by Melanie Bowles and Ceri Isaac with Amanda Briggs and Kenny Taylor. (ISBN: 978 1 85669 586 2)

    Thank you.


    Me too. I was loyal to Kirsch's "Infoseek" when one of my Ph.D. brothers-in-law (the Marine biologist) introduced me to this new "Google" thing he was using.

    It has been my homepage ever since.

    I've been hearing "Bing" here and there. Banter on the amplitude modulation radio dial. Pretty interface. Nice photo. I hear it incorporates Mr. Berners-Lee's concept of the "semantic web." (Although I am not sure how well that is going to work until every cell in every data table everywhere has its own URI.)

    But I have yet to run a search on it. I am loyal to Toyota because Toyota was good to me. Not ready to trade up just yet.

    Same with Google. I am very happy with Google and Wikipedia just now. (Although I love the idea of the "" site.

    And I am not unwilling to be impressed by that crackerjack team in Redmond.

    Anyway, I digress. My wife, who is a very gifted artist with a deeply technical savy mixed in keeps getting drawn back to textiles. To textures. She seems pre-destined to work with fabric in some way. It seems to be tied somehow to her spirit.

    Recently, she learned about the ability to print onto silk using what looks like an architect's laser printer.

    (If printing is the art of transfering an image onto a medium, I guess this too was bound to happen.)

    Any word on this? Anyone know if someone in Boston is doing it yet? She has a couple of CS3 .psd files she wants to test...

    Susan Aldrich

    Cozy with Google -- too true! My Google home page and I snuggle in our pajamas until the weather widget tells me it's safe to get dressed and leave the house. But I don't think that's what you meant. I receive about equal sustenance from Google and Microsoft, and regular readers know I am equally snotty toward Google. If it will cheer fex up, let me share my favorite Google carp: Google's wide-eyed, innocent sincerity in declaring that 9 searches in a row indicates my satisfaction with those 9 Google searches, rather than, Google is bringing me 8 sets of useless results. Microsoft has not been successful in search, by my standards or Microsoft's. It takes no coziness with anyone to observe this. There are a few circumstances which could cause them to beat Google this time, but I don't see those circumstances lined up. The most likely and promising would be, Google starts messing up and driving customers away. It could happen, it usually does at some point with big companies. Until that point, I'm not sanguine that Microsoft will take the share they want of the search market.


    Just too cozy with Google to be credible :-)

    As biased as it gets.

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