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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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    « Why Mashups [Still] Matter--and are Becoming Apps | Main | Great Skype Infographic! »

    May 14, 2011


    Patty Seybold


    Great comments!!! thx! (Can't say I disagree with your conclusions) :)


    Smack MacDougal

    Skype is the phone company for people with no money.

    The only people using Skype are those calling home to their no-money relatives in far away lands and those who need Internet access through the public library.

    No one with a data plan and a cell phone uses Skype. No one who can pay for all-you-can-eat toll calling uses Skype.

    Wireless carriers lack any want to support Skype as Skype cuts into revenues.

    Desperately, Microsoft is trying to convince wireless carriers to support phones made by others that run a Microsoft operating system.

    Microsoft still see themselves as a seller of personal seat licenses for software with the operating system as the chief focus.

    Xbox 360 and Zune have been money losers.

    Microsoft needs to spin off their consumer products (Xbox, etc) and exit the cell phone OS business as their execs do not get at all any business except selling personal seat licenses to corporate America. Instead, Microsoft execs should focus on acquisition of business software and engineering software companies.

    The days of owning the desktop in the home are coming to an end. Tablets shall replace desktops and laptops for home use. Integration of tablets as wireless remotes for set-top boxes with display on flat screen TVs is coming.

    Next-gen tablets shall have smart phones plug right into them.

    Microsoft execs are clueless.

    Patty Seybold

    I believe that Microsoft's current innovations occur in its gaming division.


    Saying Microsoft is not innovative is like saying Toyota has no innovative skill sets.

    Sure, neither are in the game for their disruptive innovations, but both have had a very long line of incremental innovations that see them near the top of their respective markets.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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