Tom De Ruyck
There's a common understanding that involving (potential) users in the development of goods and services results in propositions that better fit the needs of users and have a higher chance of success when they hit the market. By allowing (potential) users to participate in innovation, the organization will become more “open” and thus move from inside-out thinking to outside-in thinking. To anticipate the changing needs and expectations of users, it's not enough to do this at one moment in time. Private online communities provide a working tool to collaborate with users and structurally integrate their voice in every phase, making innovation more agile. Embedding the voice of the user in the internal processes supports fast decision making—not only to validate insights, ideas, and concepts, but to co-develop them in iterative cycles.
The purpose of this chapter is to provide the product development professional with a hands-on guide to integrate user collaboration through private online communities in the innovation practice. The chapter starts with the rationale for collaborating with (potential) users; and provides a comparison of different methods and when to use them. The next section describes the main objectives of such collaboration, illustrated with case studies. The remaining sections provide a step-by-step manual to setting up your ...