Customers & Faster Horses

We've been in the planning phase for a little while on a new project on customer-led (or user-led) innovation with Virgin Atlantic called V-Jam which kicks off next week. This builds upon a lot of discussion and enthusiasm in certain circles around user-led innovation, which also formed the basis of a recent Nesta report, which I thought was rather good report called The New Inventors.

Anyway, with that at the forefront of my mind, I was very interested to read JP's post on Faster Horses and the follow up post Whoa! Reigning in Faster Horses. Both posts are well worth a read and triggered much discussion around what choices and involvement customers could and should have in the innovation process. A quick summary from the 2nd post has the following 4 bullets (much more explanation is given in the original posts by the way):

  1. Customers should have a spectrum of choice. 

  2. Customers should be able to look under the hood if they want to.

  3. It’s not just about what choices are offered, it’s about how those choices are offered.

  4. There is no law today that says the customer cannot be a disruptive innovator, a wild-eyed visionary.

I rather like that list so thought I'd share it here but check out the original (via the links above) for a more detailed analysis. Basically, customers are no longer passive consumers, rather want to be active producers and innovators in your business (some of the time). JP is clearly writing, partially from his perspective at BT, and it'll be interesting to see how the V-Jam experiment progresses with Virgin Atlantic too. More on that here soon.

In the meantime, I'll be interested to learn of good examples of how customers have been involved and empowered in other industries and businesses.

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