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LEAD Innovation Blog

Read our latest articles on innovation management and innovation in a wide range of industries.

Date: 03-Oct-2018
Posted by: Michael PUTZ
Category: LEAD User Method

Innovation success with the LEAD User Method


When we travel through the countries, give lectures and seminars, we have been telling the favourite example of our innovative success for years: the history of the Artweger bathtub. That's the one with the easy exit, everybody's seen her before. Not only its general popularity as a consumer product predestines this tub to be a first-class demonstration object. The process of their development is also prototypically more suitable than any other for mediation, as we create innovative prototypes that reap market success. Meanwhile people talk about us as "the one with the bathtub" (as we have heard). So it's time to explain why we can't get out of the bathtub and continue to feel comfortable in it - even though it is such a comfortable place to get out.

Behind every known consumer product are hundreds of products that are used in its production. The end consumer only sees the tip of the iceberg as a result of the economy. For us innovation managers, this has the sad effect that 95% of our successes remain invisible. Our everyday life is about technical details. Their improvement has proven itself in the complex environment of industrial manufacturing processes. Therefore, the results of our work are spectacular in terms of function and yield, but unsuitable for their presentation and explanation. Or would you like to know more about how the innovative high-throughput nucleic acid purification machine we developed for Roche works?

Handbook LEAD User Method


Exactly! And then there's another problem that's getting in the way of our escape from the open bathtub. None of our customers would appreciate it if we publicly divulge the technological edge we have developed together. Innovation managers can only be and remain if they keep their mouths as tightly closed as a bath diver.

Russell Lee

Russell Lee (1903 - 1986): Milong Bond taking a bath. origin: Wikimedia Commons.

Therefore, we will not leave our waterway in the future if we bathe in the crowd, although some potential customers consider us to be sanitary specialists who are probably not responsible for their industry. We are not specialists for any industry, and this is not a lack of competence, but on the contrary the decisive success factor of our method. Why is that so?


What connects the meteorologist with the oncologist?

The LEAD User Method derives its effectiveness from the use of analogies. Our work consists of searching for so-called LEAD users, technologies, knowledge, skills and potentials for innovation in analog areas and industries. And to contribute these to the innovation process that we manage. Precisely because we have so much experience with technology developments in extremely heterogeneous areas, we can bring in exactly the expertise from outside that enables our customers to achieve their goals.

In in science and technology, thinking in analogies is quite rightly taboo. In innovation management, however, analogy is a powerful tool. To give an example from our practice: What connects the meteorologist with the oncologist? Both the macrocosm of planetary weather and the microcosm of tissue samples require ever more powerful solutions for computer image analysis and imaging methods. What could be more obvious than to make the far-away meteorologist a member of the team with which we were able to take medical microscopy a step forward?

Open innovation is the principle of fishing for innovation potentials far beyond one's own bathtub edge. You have to imagine our tub as an endless sea with as many fish as there are industries.

Analogie Meteorologie

origin: Wikipedia.

4 Phases of the LEAD User Method

Michael PUTZ

Born in the Salzkammergut. After working for Shell and Porsche, he concentrated on innovation management as a study assistant at the Innovation Department of the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. In 2003 he founded LEAD Innovation and manages the company as Managing Partner. Lectures at MIT, in front of companies like Google or NASA.

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