Editorial Reviews. Review. “Von Hippel presents a persuasive case for the benefits of encouraging lead users to innovate and a truly intriguing look at what . Democratizing Innovation has ratings and 28 reviews. Nicholas said: Oh shit this book was good. pages of are now innovating for them. Innovation is rapidly becoming democratized. Users, aided by improvements in computer and communications technology, increasingly can.

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Democratizing Innovation (MIT Press)

Innovation is rapidly becoming ericc. Users, aided by jnnovation 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 InnovationEric 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. The goal of a democratized user-centered innovation system, says von Hippel, is well worth striving for. An electronic version of this book is available under a Creative Commons license. Kindle Editionpages. Published first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

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Eric von Hippel – Wikipedia

Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Oh shit this book was good. Users are now innovating for themselves. The idea is that the process of innovation has moved, at least in part.

This is increasingly false. Users now do their own innovation. Manufact Oh shit this book was good. Manufacturers innovatio now specializing in scaling production rather than identifying user need. This process has increased the pace of innovation since users and manufacturers need to interact less.

Instead of cycling from user to manufacturer and back until the innovation democfatizing complete, users now speed through their own cycle and then democraatizing a finished idea off to manufacturers who speed through their cycle. Less interface between the two means less time stopping and starting. This system flows faster. A central idea is that the tools of innovation have moved towards the centers of information.

The users now have the tools to leverage their specialized knowledge. This means that less information needs to be passed from system to system. This transfer of information was the slowest part of the innovation cycle.


Users would have to tell manufacturers what they wanted. Manufacturers would inevitably get it wrong through no fault of their own, they just don’t have the knowledge that the users have so they make simple mistakes that would have been caught by any user-innovator. User-innovation is different from that of manufacturers.

Eric Von Hippel:Democratizing Innovation – Wikiversity

They tend to be more disruptive while manufacturer-innovation tends to be sustaining. Manufacturers and users have different incentives. User-innovation is more in line with user needs. User innovation communities where everyone freely reveals knowledge are increasingly facilitated by communication tools. This technological change is distinct from advances in design and prototyping tech.

The beginning of the book is all about why users freely share their innovations. Namely they get reputation and monetizing their innovations is too hard.

Patents are expensive and don’t work well. All others here lumped under the term “manufacturers” must sell innovation related products or services to users, indirectly or directly, in order to profit from innovations. Manufacturers tend to know more than users about this and to have a strong inventive to provide biased information to users in order to convince them that the solution type in which they specialize is the best one to use.

Instead, each innovation was an immediate response to a problem encountered in the course of a construction project. Once a problem was encountered, the innovating builder typically developed and fabricated a solution at great speed, using skills, materials, and equipment on hand at the construction site.

Builders reported that the average time from discovery of the problem to installation of the completed solution on the site was only half a day.

This term refers to the fact that commercial manufacturers benefit by diverting business from their competitors. Since they do not take this negative externality into account, their private gain from introducing new products exceeds society’s total gain, tilting the balance toward over-provisioning of variety.

This firm had no internal kitesurfing product development effort and offered no royalties to user-innovators – who sought none.

It also sold its products at prices much lower than those charged by companies that both developed and manufactured kites. They can gain advantages over competitors by learning to do democratizjng better than other manufacturers. They may, for example, learn to identify commercially promising user innovations more effectively than other firms.

Next, the need information they uncover is transferred to in-house product developers who are charged with developing a responsive product. In other words, the approach is to find a user need and to fill it by means of in-house product development. Pyramiding modifies this idea by assuming that people with a strong interest in a topic or field can direct an inquiring researcher to people more expert than themselves.

We would expect disruptive innovations to have come from other sources My findings, and related findings by others as well, deal with innovations by lead users, not customers, and lead users are a much broader category then customers of a specific firm Listening to the voice of the customer is not the same things as seeking out the learning from lead users. Dec 31, Jeff rated it it was amazing. My area of expertise is open source software — the most visible example of the phenomenon von Hippel examines in this book.

One of the challenges of OSS governance and planning is that many people want to treat it like a unicorn, a special snowflake that defines its own trends and has no corollaries in other industries. This book is a fantastic antidote to that thinking: Specifically, he argues that efficiencies of scale that make mass-production profitable come with a downside.


The investment necessary to scale up also distances producers from the actual users of their products: User modifications, “hacks,” and enhancements performed in the field are less polished, but spring from users’ perfect, immediate understanding of their own needs. The relationship between the large-scale manufacturing system and in-the-trenches hacking is symbiotic, and nurturing it is beneficial for both parties.

The book dives into nearly a dozen different examples: It’s a bit dry, with an academic voice that reflects its history as an MIT research project, but it’s a great read for anyone chewing on tough industry problems — or searching for an alternative to open source exceptionalism. Jul 30, Mandi Moon rated it liked it. I read this because I missed grad school and got exactly what I needed from it.

Jul 01, George rated it liked it Shelves: Interesting concept and approach to this topic. The first few chapters define characteristics of lead user innovation and venues where it is most likely to occur. This is also known as customer co-creation, where a manufacturer works with particular customers to develop new products.

In this case, certain fields or analogous fields have extreme users who are not satisfied with the compromises made in designs to meet the average users in mass produced products. These users modify existing products or create their own, and freely share their ideas and help diffuse the technology with their community of interest.

They do this in part to have others help debug or add on to the idea to make it better. Spreading a problem out across a diverse group of individuals means that every problem will be shallow problem to someone in the community who has the expertise to tackle it. An innovator sometimes freely reveals their knowledge to develop a de facto standard, or to shape an innovation in a way that is favorable to them or their complimentary products. Manufacturers have their specialized knowledge of production and can use economies of scale once a feasible, broadly acceptable solution forms, but are motivated to homogenize and make design compromises to facilitate economy of scale or fit the solution to their expertise.

Centralized design committees lack the local knowledge and suffer from the transaction costs of picking it up, in addition to the quandaries of the principle-agent problem. He cited the diffusion of information technology in fueling user innovation by facilitating sophisticated sharing and connection of fragmented communities of interest.

Increased access to sophisticated tools, such as 3D printers will make this process even more prominent as users can develop ever more sophisticated physical goods in a way that they have done with software and other products over the past few decades. On the book Democratizing Innovation, Eric von Hippel explains all utilization of users for developing innovative products by carefully explains all the aspect related to this concept.

Each chapter of the book is dedicated to one aspect; the transition from one chapter to another is smooth and provides a consistent wric for und On the book Democratizing Innovation, Eric von Hippel explains all utilization of users for developing innovative products by carefully explains all the aspect related to this concept.