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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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    « Innovative New Glasses | Main | A Lifeline »

    September 01, 2009


    Patty Seybold


    I think we are in synch. As a poster, I want to post once, have it written everywhere.. As a reader/consumer I want to stumble upon neat and relevant stuff in the places I choose to frequent for different reasons, e.g. Facebook, Twitter/Tweetdeck, my iPhone apps, etc. So I agree with you--down with the mall/supermarket.. up with the boutiques and town squares...

    Patty Seybold

    Thanks Ernie,
    I will take the time to watch the Google Wave Video.. I'm really curious.. And maybe you're right that it will be The Next Big Thing..

    By the way, re: Lotus Notes "sideshow".. Lotus Notes turned out to be THE MOST PRODUCTIVE way for us to engage in dialog with our customers as a publisher around the topics they cared about WHEN they cared about them. I miss it as a general purpose interactive publishing platform.

    Klaus-Peter Speidel

    Centralizing is definately a key issue for todays web developments. And I'm just like you, Patty: I'd rather not retype my status updates, tweets etc. and I am happy I can maximize views through interconnected websites. But I sometimes wonder if users actually don't value the experience of having multiple places to go, each one being different, like different places in a city. I don't think that I would prefer that all my favourite shops, coffees and bars were in one big, unified same-looking shopping mall. The web is not only about being practical and efficient. I think people might resist loosing the different quarters of their city. If everything ends up on a central dashboard like in wave, the rewarding experience of having different places to explore will be lost. One of the future challenges could be to keep what's nice about walking the web while getting rid of the less practical aspects (like having to log in on 10 sites).

    Ernie Schell

    I completely agree, Patty. In fact, you have expressed the value of Social Media a lot more cogently and succinctly than most other commentators.

    Ironically, I thought of you today in the context of a Google Wave video.
    It's 1 hour, 20 mins (ouch!) from a conference presentation to developers, but well worth it (the first 10 mins will give you the drift). This has potential for doing exactly what your are talking about (probably more within a large corporation than in general), with the same potential for 3rd party apps that the iPhone has. Although it could be a Lotus-Notes-type sideshow, my bet is that it will actually be The Next Big Thing.

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