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"It's getting cheaper and cheaper for users to innovate on their own," Professor von Hippel said. "This is not traditional market research — asking customers what they want. This is identifying what your most advanced users are already doing and understanding what their innovations mean for the future of your business."

William C.Taylor has a timely NYT piece on lead-user innovation and co-creation. It offers a taster of what Mavericks at Work, co-written with his Fast Company colleague Polly LaBarre, to be published in October holds in store.

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