Innovation is rapidly becoming democratized. Users, aided by improvements in computer and communications technology, increasingly can develop their own new products and services. These innovating users—both individuals and firms—often freely share their innovations with others, creating user-innovation communities and a rich intellectual commons. In Democratizing Innovation, Eric von Hippel looks closely at this emerging system of user-centered innovation. He explains why and when users find it profitable to develop new products and services for themselves, and why it often pays users to reveal their innovations freely for the use of all.
The trend toward democratized innovation can be seen in software and information products—most notably in the free and open-source software movement—but also in physical products. Von Hippel's many examples of user innovation in action range from surgical equipment to surfboards to software security features. He shows that product and service development is concentrated among "lead users," who are ahead on marketplace trends and whose innovations are often commercially attractive.
Von Hippel argues that manufacturers should redesign their innovation processes and that they should systematically seek out innovations developed by users. He points to businesses—the custom semiconductor industry is one example—that have learned to assist user-innovators by providing them with toolkits for developing new products. User innovation has a positive impact on social welfare, and von Hippel proposes that government policies, including R&D subsidies and tax credits, should be realigned to eliminate biases against it. The goal of a democratized user-centered innovation system, says von Hippel, is well worth striving for
"Every manager concerned with growth and innovation should read this book. It explains how companies can replace a broken innovation paradigm with refreshingly effective and efficient methods for finding new growth products and markets."
—Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard Business School, author of The Innovator's Dilemma
"The fruits of his labor are nicely summarized in Democratizing Innovation, a useful primer on what he calls 'user-centered innovation.'... 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. No innovation means no value added, and ultimately no profits."
— The Financial Times
Innovation Happens Elsewhere, Open Source as Business Strategy
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BUSINESS IS CHANGING after the expansive thinking of the law 1990s followed by the lessons learned in the early 2000s: It no longer makes sense for every company to make and own every aspect of its business...
"Innovation Happens Elsewhere is at least as important for those who have no interest in software as those who do, because in the details of the history and practice of the open source community lie clues to the institutional adaptations of the information economy; in the clauses of the various software licenses lie the case law that will come to define property in the information age. There are other books that have a great deal to say about this evolution, but none combines the personal experience and inside-out insight to be gained from the engagement of Ron Goldman and Richard Gabriel in so many flesh-and-blood open source projects and the development of the structures that have supported them."—from the foreword by Chris Meyer, Monitor Group