How Your Users Accelerate Your Innovation

from the desk-of-jerome-h-lemelson dept

From the lightbulb, to the internal combustion engine to velcro, innovation (more important than invention) has been driven largely in part by individual tinkerers. However, in recent years, the resources and know-how required behind technically complex innovations such as the artificial heart and GPS mean that corporate inventors have an edge in some industries. Even so, the best innovations continue to come from “lead users” instead of from companies trying to figure out what the users actually want. That is, it’s not about someone recognizing a market, but rather someone needing something addressed, right now — and doing it themselves for themselves. Google Maps was a great innovation, but Google Maps + Craigslist, and Google Maps + GreaseMonkey, made it even better. As the tools for innovation become more accessible, the pace of individual innovation should begin to accelerate. The recent proliferation of web APIs embraces this concept of user innovation and has already led to some wonderful developments. By letting the users stand on the shoulders of existing developments, companies benefit by being able to fulfill many user needs more closely since the users themselves are able to innovate and customize the tools for their own personal needs. It’s not about making products anymore. It’s about making platforms upon which people can develop their own products to solve their own needs.

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