Sunday, March 25, 2007

User driven innovation - is it egalitarian?

Todays NYT has an article about user driven innovation. Heavily quoting Erich von Hippel's work, the article describes physicians coming up with their own medical innovations, snowboarders refining their snow boards, and new tools for the hobby woodworker developed by the hobby woodworker.
It seems that Denmark, well known as the creator country of user driven Lego, wants to go the farthest, establishing user-driven innovation as a state policy. It is probably no coincidence that Nordic countries like Denmark live under the law of Jante: "Don't think you're anyone special or that you're better than us".
Taken to its extreme, Jante's law leads to a society preserving social stability and uniformity over fostering creativity and change. Within a COIN, however, it is an extremely fertile nurturing ground for innovation and creativity. This has been shown many times, most famously for the creation of the Web, and for groups of open source programmers such as the developers of the Apache Web server. These communities are not egalitarian, but a meritocracy, with a transparent and fluctuating leadership of the most capable. It is those most capable users who drive user driven innovation.

1 comment:

  1. It is egalitarian in that these users create or improve products for their own benefit and not necessarily for the common good. This means that the products they produce address only a subset of the unmet needs of a typical population of users and products continue to fail!