Most businesses need fresh ideas for new products or services. But finding them is not always easy. You may not have the capacity to dedicate a large chunk of time to idea creation. Your team may not have the creative flair you’re looking for. Your finances may not permit you to dedicate resource to research and development? You may have too many other things to think about.
If that’s the case, what can you do? To find the ideas you’re seeking you can widen the search outside your company, and include your customers and stakeholders. Many successful businesses now benefit from open innovation, inviting ideas from far and wide, in order to grow their company. Here are some examples of how this can be achieved.
Lego is a great example of how engaging your users can create more value. Lego activates its users through two sites, Create and Share, and Lego Ideas. The Create and Share site lets Lego community members share their designs and Lego pictures, while the Ideas site aims for new product releases.
For example, the mini-Big Bang Theory Lego set is a community-based product that originated in the Lego Ideas site. The process works like this. When the amount of supporters reaches 10k, Lego evaluates the design and the product can hit the stores under the Lego Ideas product label. The idea for mini-Big Bang Theory took 10 months to get from the Ideas site to production, and proved to be a big hit.
Lego is a perfect example of brand/customers/ideas in perfect harmony.
Quirky is a community-led invention platform. You can put your product ideas up on Quirky and others within the Quirky community can comment and contribute to your submission. If the idea is good and gains traction, it can be developed further by people on Quirky.
The best products on the platform are chosen by Quirky for manufacturing and sold at the Quirky store. The process at this point is financed by Quirky, so having your own company and resources isn’t crucial for your product’s success.
This may be of real benefit to fledgling businesses that haven’t the deep-pockets needed to take a product to market. You can then reap the financial rewards by gaining royalties if the product proves to be a success.
It takes the risk out of R&D.
Nivea found a great way to harness the brainpower of their customers in the development of a new deodorant. They posted on social media: “we know that our current product can be connected to stains in clothes. Could you share your stories and home remedies so that we can develop a better product?”
The resulting B&W deodorant became the first deodorant on the market that prevents white and yellow stains from appearing. Admitting they had issues with their product could have been seen as a sign of weakness, but that wasn’t the case. Users enjoyed collaborating with Nivea and the end-product ended up being a great success.
Nivea could have invented the invisible B&W deodorant by traditional means, but it would have cost more time and money. Nivea also gained visibility and attracted customers by ncluding them in the innovation process, which thus doubled as marketing.
Whether your business is large or small, you can benefit from engaging with customers in the development of ideas. Customers feel more involved, and develop a greater bond with your brand, while you can benefit from the ideas they put forward and grow value in your business. That’s what’s known as win/win.