Wilson Professor of Technological Innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management, is a leading research scholar on the economics and management of free, open, and distributed innovation. Reviews In a concise pages, von Hippel traces the empirical studies on user innovation, determining that between 10 and 40 percent of users engage in developing or modifying products. Harvard Business School Working Knowledge Still, new patterns are emerging in some scattered yet suggestive areas of product design, studied by management expert, Eric von Hippel in Democratizing Innovation. San Francisco Chronicle The book puts its thesis well, with plenty of examples. Despite its brevity, Democratizing Innovation is a heavyweight book, written with the lightness of touch you might expect from a regular contributor to the journal Management Science. But where innovation comes from and how value gets created are heavy questions for all companies in all industries.

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This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Oh shit this book was good. Users are now innovating for themselves. The idea is that the process of innovation has moved, at least in part. This is increasingly false. Users now do their own innovation. Manufacturers are now specializing in scaling production rather than identifying user need. This process has increased the pace of innovation since users and manufacturers need to interact less.

Instead of cycling from user to manufacturer and back until the innovation is complete, users now speed through their own cycle and then pass a finished idea off to manufacturers who speed through their cycle. Less interface between the two means less time stopping and starting. This system flows faster. A central idea is that the tools of innovation have moved towards the centers of information.

The users now have the tools to leverage their specialized knowledge. This means that less information needs to be passed from system to system. This transfer of information was the slowest part of the innovation cycle.

Users would have to tell manufacturers what they wanted. Some random tidbits: 1. User-innovation is different from that of manufacturers. They tend to be more disruptive while manufacturer-innovation tends to be sustaining. Manufacturers and users have different incentives.

User-innovation is more in line with user needs. User innovation communities where everyone freely reveals knowledge are increasingly facilitated by communication tools.

This technological change is distinct from advances in design and prototyping tech. I forgot. The beginning of the book is all about why users freely share their innovations. Namely they get reputation and monetizing their innovations is too hard. Quotes: "Users are unique in that they alone benefit directly from innovations. All others here lumped under the term "manufacturers" must sell innovation related products or services to users, indirectly or directly, in order to profit from innovations.

Manufacturers tend to know more than users about this and to have a strong inventive to provide biased information to users in order to convince them that the solution type in which they specialize is the best one to use. Instead, each innovation was an immediate response to a problem encountered in the course of a construction project.

Once a problem was encountered, the innovating builder typically developed and fabricated a solution at great speed, using skills, materials, and equipment on hand at the construction site. Builders reported that the average time from discovery of the problem to installation of the completed solution on the site was only half a day.

This term refers to the fact that commercial manufacturers benefit by diverting business from their competitors. This firm had no internal kitesurfing product development effort and offered no royalties to user-innovators - who sought none.

It also sold its products at prices much lower than those charged by companies that both developed and manufactured kites. They can gain advantages over competitors by learning to do this better than other manufacturers.

They may, for example, learn to identify commercially promising user innovations more effectively than other firms. Next, the need information they uncover is transferred to in-house product developers who are charged with developing a responsive product.

In other words, the approach is to find a user need and to fill it by means of in-house product development. Pyramiding modifies this idea by assuming that people with a strong interest in a topic or field can direct an inquiring researcher to people more expert than themselves.

We would expect disruptive innovations to have come from other sources My findings, and related findings by others as well, deal with innovations by lead users, not customers, and lead users are a much broader category then customers of a specific firm Listening to the voice of the customer is not the same things as seeking out the learning from lead users.


Eric von Hippel



Eric von Hippel



Democratizing Innovation




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