Consumer-Driven Innovation

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Adapting to the Sharing Economy

Instead of buying and owning products, consumers are increasingly interested in leasing and sharing them. New strategies can help companies embrace this “collaborative consumption.” For instance, Ikea and Patagonia have found that helping people resell or give away products both enhances the companies' reputations and helps customers create space in their homes for new Ikea and Patagonia items. Companies have also found value in embracing opportunities to share existing assets and capacities.

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From the Editor: Beyond the Organization

Business executives today are figuring out how to harness the energy not just of the talented people within an organization, but of those outside of it as well. The fall 2013 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review features a special report on leveraging external innovation, from the phenomenon of corporations using innovation contests to an investigation of what motivates volunteers to take part in innovation projects.

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With 3-D Printing, the Shoe Really Fits

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Few new technologies receive more intense interest than 3-D printing, with some predicting that it will revolutionize manufacturing. That promise remains emergent. But it is taking shape in some industries, such as shoes. The shoe company New Balance thinks that within five years it will custom-make shoes with 3-D printers. And there are already entrepreneurial fashion designers trying to leverage 3-D printing to build up their presence in the market.

Image courtesy of Ultimaker.

Innovation Lessons From 3-D Printing

3-D printing is the printing of solid, physical 3-D objects. “Just as the Web democratized innovation in bits, a new class of ‘rapid prototyping’ technologies…is democratizing innovation in atoms,” Wired magazine’s longtime editor-in-chief, Chris Anderson, stated in Makers: The New Industrial Revolution. Indeed, open-source 3-D printing fits in with the general trend of open-source innovation by collaborative online communities. The big question: How should existing companies respond?

Image courtesy of bylisataylor.com.

Collaborating With Customer Communities: Lessons From the Lego Group

Customer-oriented companies pride themselves on understanding the marketplace and integrating the best ideas into future products. But what would it be like if you found that you had hundreds, if not thousands, of knowledgeable users ready and eager to spend nights and weekends acting as extensions of your research and development department? For the Lego Group, the Danish maker of children’s creative construction toys, this close bond with the user community is not a pipe dream but a reality.

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Is There a Tweaker Driving Innovation On Your Team?

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Innovation doesn’t just come from the geniuses who come up with completely original ideas. Instead, it’s tweakers like the engineers in the British Industrial Revolution and Apple’s Steve Jobs who take existing ideas and turn them into something better.

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How to Network Your Way to New Product Ideas

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What if what you know about the innovation process is wrong? That’s a question Eric von Hippel thinks companies should consider.

Von Hippel, professor of technological innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management, has spent much of his career doing research that has led him to a radical conclusion: The traditional view of the product innovation process is flawed. In the traditional view, companies get too much credit for product innovation, according to von Hippel — and users get too little.

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Marissa Mayer’s Skills as an “Idea Connector”

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Google VP Marissa Mayer exemplifies the key traits of an idea connector, a person who links up idea scouts who have limited internal company networks with R&D engineers and others. One mechanism she uses: she holds three weekly sessions where she is accessible to all Google employees who want to pitch a new idea.

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Image courtesy of Flickr user soleir.

The Age of the Consumer-Innovator

It has long been assumed that companies develop products for consumers, while consumers are passive recipients. However, this paradigm is flawed, because consumers are a major source of product innovations. This article suggests a new innovation paradigm, in which consumers and users play a central and active role in developing products. The article also summarizes key findings from studies on consumer product innovation conducted in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan.

Image courtesy of Netflix.

What to Do Against Disruptive Business Models (When and How to Play Two Games at Once)

Fighting against a disruptive business model by rolling out a second business model is one option for companies to consider. But to make that work, you need to avoid the trap of getting stuck in the middle.

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Innovation through volunteers

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We’re all familiar with the power of volunteer contributions in the open source software movement. Now companies are finding additional ways to work with volunteer contributors.

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