Innovation

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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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Creating Value Through Business Model Innovation

Companies are increasingly turning toward business model innovation as an alternative or complement to product or process innovation. Changes to business model design can be subtle; even when they might not have the potential to disrupt an industry, they can still yield important benefits to the innovator. The article offers a number of examples of business model innovation and poses six questions for executives to consider when thinking about business model innovation.

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Achieving Successful Strategic Transformation

Companies that are able to radically change their entrenched ways of doing things and then reclaim leading positions in their industries are the exception rather than the rule. Even less common are companies able to anticipate a new set of requirements and mobilize the internal and external resources necessary to meet them. The article focuses on three companies that transformed themselves and compares them with three other companies from similar industries that hadn’t been required to make a dramatic shift.

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The Case for Standard Measures of Patent Quality

The current balkanized approach to measuring patent quality is not serving the users of the world’s patent systems. Like those advocating for the metric standard two centuries ago, we have an incompatibility problem today in the international patent system. But how the global patent system is organized and managed has far-reaching implications for innovation, consumer choice and corporate profits.

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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 Identify New Business Models

Companies traditionally pursue growth by investing heavily in product development so they can produce new and better offerings; by developing consumer insights so they can satisfy customers’ needs; or by making acquisitions and expanding into new markets. This article identifies a fourth method: “business model experimentation,” or using thought experiments to quickly and inexpensively examine new business model possibilities.

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Fighting “Not-Sold-Here” Tendencies

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“Not-sold-here” tendencies, the instinct to not want to give away a company’s “crown jewels” through strategic licensing, are an impediment for companies looking to pursue open innovation practices. Monetary and non-monetary incentive mechanisms in support of technology transfer, such as an open innovation award, can help break this instinct.

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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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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.

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Creating Employee Networks That Deliver Open Innovation

Companies such as Procter & Gamble, Cisco Systems, Genzyme, General Electric and Intel are often credited with having attained market leadership through open innovation strategies. By tapping into and exploiting the technological knowledge residing beyond their own R&D structures, these companies outmaneuvered rivals. But while other organizations try to follow their example, many are failing because they neglect to ensure that the outside ideas reach the people best equipped to exploit them.

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The Business Models Investors Prefer

Why are investors so bullish on companies like Apple and Disney? Is it metrics, management, industry prowess, good investor relations or good timing? Probably all of these. But something else may be at work, too. According to research conducted at the MIT Sloan School of Management, the stock market consistently values certain types of business models more highly than others. In recent years, investors have favored models focused on intellectual property and highly innovative manufacturing.

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