User-Driven Innovation

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When Patients Become Innovators

Patients are increasingly developing sophisticated medical devices and services to meet their own needs — often without help from companies that produce or sell medical products. In this way they are able to benefit from advances that aren’t commercially available. Here, we’ll look at two examples — a solution for managing Type 1 diabetes and one for managing Crohn’s disease — and consider them within the context of the free innovation movement that’s gaining momentum across industries.

Finding the Right Role for Social Media in Innovation

Social media provides a game-changing opportunity to support new product development. But taking advantage of the opportunity requires more than just a Facebook presence with a loyal base of “friends.” To use social media for innovation, organizations need clear strategies and objectives. They also should look beyond social media used by the general public to lesser-recognized platforms, such as special user forums or expert blogs, for especially valuable user-generated feedback.

How to Network Your Way to New Product Ideas

  • Read Time: 3 min 

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.

Measuring user innovation

  • Read Time: 1 min 

A new working paper examines the prevalence — and policy implications — of innovations that come from technology users.


Innovation by User Communities: Learning From Open-Source Software

Manufacturers, not users, traditionally have been considered the most logical developers of innovative products. But user innovation communities present a great advantage over the manufacturer-centered development systems that have been the mainstay of commerce. When products that user communities develop compete head-to- head against products developed by manufacturers — Apache against Microsoft’s and Netscape’s server software, for example — the former seem capable of beating the latter handily in the marketplace.


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