While I went to a laundry I read this article about "Democratising Innovation" . Don't worry about it, I will tell what it is. Usually, the companies do the market survey, do their product developments in the labs and come up with the final product in the market.
Now, it's time to change the approach says, ERIC VON HIPPEL - Professor and Head of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
He talks about 'lead users' - who are about 10 to 20% of the normal users (consumers) - who can innovate and improve to suit their convenience. If you can extract ideas from them and mass-produce their customisations - you can win a big market.
For example, ages before the companies started thinking about "Mountain Bikes", some mountain hiking specialists customised their bicycles and used their 'mountain bikes' with added gears etc. Now, you can see Google..which does similar kind of thing..uses people to innovate for it. They let all the source codes open and let people to come forward with innovative applications such as Froogle..
So, just let your customers do the thinking - while you enable your people to extract them and use them!
You can download and read the entire book "Democratizing Innovation" at his home page.
Millions of brains are better than a single brain. Don't you think so?