Lecture Notes

Selected lectures from Prof. Eric von Hippel and selected guests are presented here. All lectures are courtesy of the lecturer named and used with permission.


Lec # Topics Lectures
1 Introduction and Overview This course is intended for students who want to know what is going on at the leading edges of innovation practice. Important trends in innovation are identified and their implications for innovation management explored. Major topics include: the trend to open information ("open source") rather than protected intellectual property; distribution of innovation over many independent but collaborating actors; and toolkits that empower users to innovate for themselves.

In this introductory lecture, I will provide an overview of course content and course requirements. (PDF)
2 Many Users Innovate: Maybe Even You! Evidence is now very strong that users are the actual developers of many commercially-important products and services - especially the functionally novel, "breakthrough" ones.

Now we are learning that innovation by users is not a rare event: Many users are developing and modifying products in many fields - maybe even you! Why is this so? Users have heterogeneous needs that are not well-served even by the many products on the market. (PDF)
3 Innovate or Buy? Each User has a Low-cost Innovation Niche Question: If you want something precisely right for you, why would you build it for yourself rather than buy it from a custom supplier?

Answer: It can be cheaper for you to do it yourself. Also, you often will get a better result innovating rather than buying due to sticky information effects - within your own "low-cost innovation niche." (PDF)
4 Dr. Nat Sims, Medical User-Innovator Lecturer: Nat Sims

Nat Sims is a Doctor at Mass General Hospital and an extraordinary user-innovator. Seeing a baby turning blue because of mis-measured drugs lead him to develop the computerized infusion pump. Nat did not then join a manufacturer, he remained at MGH. But, as a user, he had to do a lot to get manufacturers to adopt the pumps as a product. The pumps he pioneered became commercial products, and the market for such pumps is now in the billions of dollars annually.
5 How Open Source Software Works Lecturer: Karim Lakhani

The open source software phenomenon opened peoples' eyes to the potential power of innovation carried out by groups of volunteers with tools and coordination mechanisms. Karim Lakhani explains how OS works. He talks about community transparency and other organizational innovations that are used to achieve impressive results like Apache™ web server software and the Linux® operating system. (PDF)
6 User Innovation Communities Lecturers: Ethan Mollick and Eric von Hippel

Users - each in their narrow low-cost innovation or information niches - need some way to combine their innovations or information into larger wholes. Internet-based innovation communities, in software and elsewhere, are a common way that this is done.
7 Why Users Often Freely Reveal Their Innovations Giving away innovations that you have spent money and time to develop does not fit traditional economic theory - it seems to make absolutely no sense. Nevertheless it does happen quite commonly. Free revealing in free and open source software brought this matter to the attention of academics - and now economic theory is beginning to understand how free revealing can make economic sense after all. (PDF)
8 How Can Manufacturers Make Money if Users are the Innovators? Are we all going to starve as users design and build their own products - totally ignoring the manufacturers that we work for and all the wonderful, proprietary solutions we can sell them?

Users will be the choosers as to whether to buy or innovate or select a "free" user-developed solution. (PDF)
9 Finding Lead User Innovations and Giving Customers Toolkits Lecturer: Patrick Koppula, GarageBand

Manufacturers - and we all - can adapt to a user-centric innovation system. Lead user processes and toolkits processes are examples of how this is being and can be done.
10 How Manufacturers Can Benefit from Distributed Innovation: The Story of InnoCentive Lecturer: Darren Carroll, CEO, InnoCentive

Manufacturers can benefit from purposefully inducing / acquiring distributed innovation. "InnoCentive enables companies to tap into the talents of a global scientific community for innovative solutions to tough R&D problems." Darrin will tell us how. (PDF)
11 Design and Manufacture of "Mass Customized" Products Lecturer: Frank Piller

There is a trend towards mass-customized products in both consumer and industrial fields. Frank Pillar explains how this process works in leading-edge consumer goods fields.
12 Resistance to Innovation is the Norm: Things will Change - But Slowly, If Incumbents have a Choice! Some people win - and some lose - when an innovation - or new innovation paradigm - is introduced. So - new paradigms like the distributed innovation process may diffuse more slowly than we think!