Customer perspective
Dr. Ralph-Christian Ohr, a Swiss product manager, reflects thoughtfully on the recent strong discussion on user-led innovation.

“There has been quite a lot of discussion recently about a post by Jens Martin Skibsted and Rasmus Bech Hansen, titled “User-Led Innovation Can’t Create Breakthroughs; Just Ask Apple and Ikea”. Their major claim is: “Great brands lead users, not the other way around.” As expected, this lead to controversial discussions in terms of customer’s role in the process for innovation. The response reminded me of the reaction to one of Roberto Verganti’s polarizing posts.

It’s interesting to see that those discussions mostly result in ‘either-or’ positions – assuming that customer-centered and vision-centered approaches exclude each other. As innovation is about managing tension, I think a ‘both-and’ approach tends to be more promising.

Innovation aims at providing value to customers. Customers eventually decide whether or not an innovative offering is going to be adopted and to become successful. Therefore, the customer needs to be put in the centre of innovation considerations.”

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