Various community-engineering techniques leverage the potential of crowds by fostering an online user community for innovation, which provides a major opportunity for R&D. Consequently, many approaches have been used to interact with users for innovation, including living labs and crowdsourcing. Companies use a variety of techniques to maximize returns from their interactions with users, and each approach has its strengths and weaknesses.
In general, posting business problems in large communities – for example through “challenge driven innovation” – may expose sensitive information and strategic intent to a wide audience, but crowdsourcing offers a possibility for more focused user innovation.
In company-led innovation approaches, innovating with a small number of contributors is appropriate when:
- one knows the knowledge domain from which the best solution to the problem is likely to emerge
- having the best experts is important and one has the capability to pick them
- one can define the problem and evaluate the proposed solutions
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