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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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    « Apple sans Steve Jobs? | Main | Continuing the Conversation around the iPhone/Verizon Launch »

    January 28, 2011


    Erin Schumpert

    Nice article. There are a lot of companies, like GE, that are shifting to a more innovation-focused approach of doing business. A number of industry leaders are doing a great job of creating engaging employee and customer idea communities.

    Telecom leader AT&T has over 300,000 employees and has a set of ideas (that were discovered using Spigit) that are to be announced later this year in their 2011 product line. BusinessWeek wrote an article that features AT&T and their use of Spigit. Read more here:

    Other companies such as AAA, and Comcast are also doing some amazing things when it comes to innovation.

    BusinessWeek also recently featured Spigit in a video where Cisco discusses their quest with Spigit to find its next big business ideas from employees and outsiders alike.
    You can watch the video here:–+ceo+guide+to+collective+intelligence_special+report:+ceo+guide+to+collective+intelligence


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