Innovation from users/consumers

Who invented the mountain bike?  A big bike company? No, it was invented by a group of bicycle users (consumers) that were frustrated with the existing road bikes.  Charles Leadbetter speaks about how ordinary people, rather than large companies can innovate in this video.   

Mr. Leadbetter mentioned that often consumers are ahead of the producers in developing innovations because: 1) There is much uncertainty that exists when radical innovations affect many people.  There is a greater need for innovation for this uncertainty, and consumers/users are quicker and more adept to identify and find methods to deal with this uncertainty. 2) Users are the source of big disruptive innovations.  Large companies rely too much on past success. I had posted earlier, this will create the downfall for many big companies.  His example of rap music clearly illustrates that form of music would have been difficult as an invention by large companies.  3) Many of the users are passionate about their product/service and are willing to work on developing new innovative product/service during their leisure time and completing this to a high standard.  These people possibly feel bored at work, and focus their energy on their passion.  

As I had posted earlier here and here, there is a battle between open-source innovation (usually crowd-sourced, grassroots) versus closed-source innovation (traditionally large companies). Many of the large companies have tried to stifle the open-source innovators that engage in interactive and collaborative activities.  Mr. Leadbetter thinks that an emerging trend will dissolve the differences between closed-source and open-source innovation, as it will no longer be clearly defined. For example, as I had posted earlier about the use of developer tools on existing websites such as Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, where the users are able to develop their own tools and widgets with resources and platforms such as a developers’ kits (API) that are provided from these sites.

This video corroborates the findings in my posting about the eight emerging trends for businesses.  Crowdsourcing and collaboration are all future trends in innovation.  It turns users into producers, and consumers into designers. Being able to have a mix between the traditional and emerging sources of innovation enables a structure to be in place, but also dynamic in identifying and designing products/services to improve the lives of the consumer.


One response to “Innovation from users/consumers

  1. Pingback: Design is in the details « Ideas make the world go round

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