27 March 2007

How to improve it? Ask those who use it [The New York Times]

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Eric von Hippel of M.I.T., left, and Dr. Nathaniel Sims, with hospital devices Dr. Sims has modified. Mr. von Hippel says users can improve on products.
“Dr. Nathaniel Sims, an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, has figured out a few ways to help save patients’ lives,” writes Michael Fitzgerald in the New York Times.

“In doing so, he also represents a significant untapped vein of innovation for companies.

What Dr. Sims did is called user-driven innovation by Eric von Hippel, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management. Mr. von Hippel is the leading advocate of the value of letting users of products modify them or improve them, because they may come up with changes that manufacturers never considered. He thinks that this could help companies develop products more quickly and inexpensively than with their internal design teams.”

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