In recent years increasing need has been felt for a body of systematic theoretical constructs which will discuss the general relationships of the empirical world. This is the quest of General Systems Theory. It does not seek, of course, to establish a single, self-contained “general theory of practically everything” which will replace all the special theories of particular disciplines. Such a theory would be almost without content, for we always pay for generality by sacrificing content, and all we can say about practically everything is almost nothing. Somewhere however between the specific that has no meaning and the general that has no content there must be, for each purpose and at each level of abstraction, an optimum degree of generality. It is the contention of the General Systems Theorists that this optimum degree of generality in theory is not always reached by the particular sciences.
Urban, Glen L and Hippel, Eric von (1988): Lead User Analyses for the Development of New Industrial Products. In Management Science, 34 (5) pp. 569-582.
Recently, a "lead user" concept has been proposed for new product development in fields subject to rapid change (von Hippel 1986). In this paper we integrate market research within this lead user methodology and report a test of it in the rapidly evolving field of computer-aided systems for the design of printed circuit boards (PC-CAD). In the test, lead users were successfully identified and proved to have unique and useful data regarding both new product needs and solutions responsive to those needs. New product concepts generated on the basis of lead user data were found to be strongly preferred by a representative sample of PC-CAD users. We discuss strengths and weaknesses of this first empirical test of the lead user methodology, and suggest directions for future research.
Hippel, Eric von (1994): "Sticky information"¯ and the locus of problem solving: implications for innovation. In Management Science, 40 (4) pp. 429-439.
"Sticky information" and the locus of problem solving : implications for innovation (1993)
Sticky Information and the Locus Problem Solving Implications for Innovation Eric von Hippel September very grateful colleagues Anne Carter Bradley Feld Dietmar Harhoff Zvi Griliches Ralph Katz Richard Nelson Nathan Rosenberg Stephan Schrader Stefan Thomke Marcie Tyre and Jessie von Hippel for their contributions the ideas explored this paper thank the Sloan Foundation for funding the research reported this paper ABSTRACT solve problem needed information and problem solving capabilities must brought together Often the information used technical problem solving costly acquire transfer and use new locus our terms sticky this paper explore the impact information stickiness the locus innovation related problem solving find first that when sticky information needed problem solvers held one site only problem solving will carried out that locus other things being equal Second when more than one locus sticky information called upon problem solvers the locus problem solving may iterate among these sites problem solving proceeds When the cost such iteration high then third problems that draw upon multiple sites sticky information will sometimes partitioned into subproblems that each draw only one such locus and fourth investments will made reduce the stickiness information some locations Information stickiness appears affect number issues importance researchers and practitioners Among these are patterns the diffusion information the specialization firms the locus innovation and the nat
It is known that end users of products and services sometimes innovate, and that innovations developed by users sometimes become the basis for important newcommercial products and services. It has also been argued and to some extent shown that such innovations will be found concentrated in a "lead user" segment of the user community. However, neither the characteristics of innovating users nor the scope of the community that they "lead" has been explored in depth.In this paper, we explore the characteristics of innovation, innovators, and innovation sharing by library users of OPAC information search systems in Australia. This market has capable users, but it is nonetheless clearly a "follower" with respect to worldwide technological advance. Wefind that 26% of users in this local market nonetheless do modify their OPACs in both major and minor ways, and that OPAC manufacturers judge many of these user modifications to be of commercial interest. We find that we can distinguish modifying from nonmodifying users on the basis of a number of factors, including their "leading-edge status" and their in-house technical capabilities. We find that many innovating users freely share their innovations with others, and find that we can distinguish users that share information about their modifications from users that do not. We conclude by considering some implications of our findings for idea generation practices in marketing.
Traditional idea generation techniques based on customer input usually collect information on new product needs from a random or typical set of customers. The “lead user process” takes a different approach. It collects information about both needs and solutions from users at the leading edges of the target market, as well as from users in other markets that face similar problems in a more extreme form. This paper reports on a natural experiment conducted within the 3M Company on the effect of the lead user (LU) idea-generation process relative to more traditional methods. 3M is known for its innovation capabilities— and we find that the LU process appears to improve upon those capabilities. Annual sales of LU product ideas generated by the average LU project at 3M are conservatively projected to be $146 million after five years—more than eight times higher than forecast sales for the average contemporaneously conducted “traditional” project. Each funded LU project is projected to create a new major product line for a 3M division. As a direct result, divisions funding LU project ideas are projecting their highest rate of major product line generation in the past 50 years.
In the traditional new product development process, manufacturers first explore user needs and then develop responsive products. Developing an accurate understanding of a user need is not simple or fast or cheap, however. As a result, the traditional approach is coming under increasing strain as user needs change more rapidly, and as firms increasingly seek to serve “markets of one.” Toolkits for user innovation is an emerging alternative approach in which manufacturers actually abandon the attempt to understand user needs in detail in favor of transferring need-related aspects of product and service development to users. Experience in fields where the toolkit approach has been pioneered show custom products being developed much more quickly and at a lower cost. In this paper we explore toolkits for user innovation and explain why and how they work.