Shifting Innovation to Users Via Toolkits

24 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2002  

Eric A. von Hippel

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Ralph Katz

Northeastern University - Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Date Written: April 2002

Abstract

In the traditional new product development process, manufacturers first explore user needs and then develop responsive products. Developing an accurate understanding of user needs is not simple or fast or cheap however, and 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.

Keywords: Toolkits, User Innovation, Product Development

Suggested Citation

von Hippel, Eric A. and Katz, Ralph, Shifting Innovation to Users Via Toolkits (April 2002). MIT Sloan Working Paper No. 4232-02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=309740 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.309740

Eric Von Hippel (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

E62-455
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-7155 (Phone)
617-253-2660 (Fax)

Ralph Katz

Northeastern University - Entrepreneurship and Innovation ( email )

Boston, MA 02115
United States

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