Collaborative User Innovation refers to the notion of integrating external actors (first and foremost users) into the organization’s innovation processes. The goal of this strategy is to leverage the creative potential outside the organization for developing and marketing truly novel product ideas and concepts. Organizations open-up their innovation processes to users in order to

  • increase the efficiency of R&D and marketing activities,
  • reduce the number of product flops,
  • increase the proportion of radical and/or disruptive innovations, and
  • empower their customers.


Today’s organizations face extremely high pressure to innovate their products because of declining product life cycles and increasingly heterogeneous customer needs. Unfortunately, they often lack the creativity as well as the needs-related information necessary to efficiently and continuously come-up with novel products that really satisfy their customers. As a result, flop rates of new products are as high as 90% in many industries.


More and more organizations realize the power of Collaborative User Innovation. By integrating external actors into their innovation processes, they become more effective and efficient innovators. Approaches like Crowdsourcing, harvesting Innovative User Communities, the Lead-User method, or Toolkits for User Innovation and Design are viable means of Collaborative User Innovation. They help to draw on the creative potential outside the organization and to collect a large number of truly novel ideas and concepts at relatively low costs. In addition, external actors may also support organizations in transforming innovative ideas into market-ready products and successfully disseminating them.

Learn more on Crowdsourcing and Innovative User Communities:

  • Book chapter on Innovative User Communities by Eric von Hippel.
  • Paper on Crowdsourcing best practices (in German language).

Learn more on the Lead-User method:

Learn more on Toolkits for User Innovation and Design:

  • Book chapter on Toolkits for User Innovation and Design by Eric von Hippel.