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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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    « Quora Crowdsourcing | Main | What Are the Chances for Nokia + Microsoft’s “3rd Ecosystem” Bet? »

    February 10, 2011


    Scott Jordan

    Patty, following our Pioneers discussion of Elop's remarkable memo, one thought burst on me as I was driving yesterday: the memo was in English.

    I believe this detail is important in considering the final question you ask, "Will the innovative employees who have made Nokia what it is today be willing to abandon their brainchildren and follow Stephen Elop?"

    For a newly-arrived, foreign-born executive (Elop is Canadian, not Finnish) to embark in his maiden rhetorical voyage in a company in his own language rather than that of the vast majority of his employees is either rude or a signal. I expect Nokia's organizational center-of-mass will shift Westward, either because Elop grapples it there or through attrition of Finnish employees whose contributions to Nokia's success have been denigrated and their culture subtly dissed by their new CEO.

    It's a dangerous but probably necessary game that Elop is playing. He first must break the bucking bronco of the organization and bring it under his firm control. Hence a turnaround CEO's first message must be a harsh one. But this memo may go beyond that: Certainly, he needs human capital. He may be signalling that he's not looking for it in Finland.

    One thing is certain: Elop's memo will be enshrined in the annals of change management forevermore.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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