The LEAD User Method was developed by Professor Eric von Hippel at MIT, the Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachussetts, USA, in the 1980s. It is based on the empirical realization that innovations are often not initiated by manufacturers, but that users are often the driving force behind developments. It turns out that these innovative activities are not randomly distributed, but are concentrated on a certain group of particularly progressive users, customers (LEAD users).
The aim of this method, which follows the approach of Open Innovation, is to develop products, processes, services or business models that are particularly close to the market, customer-oriented and geared to the end user.
So-called LEAD Users are involved in this development process at the earliest possible stage. These are progressive users or inventors, pioneers in their field, who feel the needs before they will have the masses tomorrow.
LEAD Users benefit particularly from innovation because they are dissatisfied with the existing products or processes on the market and they therefore benefit strongly from a new product, a new development, an innovation.
Numerous innovations fail. There are many reasons for this. Unfortunately, they are only known when a lot of work, money and effort has gone into the invention. However, when LEAD Users participate in the development process, the danger of failure is greatly reduced. Studies, practice and also many successful inventions, which users co-thought up and realized, show this. But what is a LEAD User?
LEAD Users can be private individuals, experts as well as companies or organizations. But don't confuse LEAD Users with pilot customers or beta users. They take a closer look at existing developments in order to improve the final result. LEAD Users, on the other hand, are used much earlier in the innovation process and make a much more important contribution: they design the innovation together with a manufacturer or sometimes even autonomously.
"The LEAD User Method ensures that the products and processes best meet the future needs of the users."
the composition of an internal project team
the precision of the search field (development project)
the definition of the LEAD User Profile
the definition & integration of analog, related areas
the search for relevant LEAD Users
the organization, implementation and moderation of the LEAD User Conference as the highlight of the project, where concepts for breakthrough innovations are jointly generated in line with the search field defined at the beginning.