There are two free books that help provide an understanding of how People, Ideas & Objects software development project will proceed. And most importantly the role of the Users and Developers involved. The first book is the above titled and can be downloaded from here. The second book "The Future of Ideas" is also down-loadable, and written by Professor Lawrence Lessig of Stanford University.
Professor von Hippel's book documents the means to attain the innovation that we seek. In Chapter 1 he provides a summary of the entire book. This summary provides coverage of the points that I want to make, so lets begin.
Professor von Hippel starts off with framing the context in which he sees innovation occurring. Defining both User centred innovation vs manufacturer centric innovation. For the purposes of this blog entry, von Hippel's focus on the use of "manufacturers" is consistent with our understanding of oil and gas user based innovation.
Users that innovate can develop exactly what they want, rather than relying on manufacturers to act as their (often very imperfect) agents. Moreover, individual users do not have to develop everything they need on their own: they can benefit from innovations developed and freely shared by others. p. 1
At the same time, the ongoing shift of product-development activities from manufacturers to users is painful and difficult for many manufacturers. Open, distributed innovation is "attacking" a major structure of the social division of labor. Many firms and industries must make fundamental changes to long-held business models in order to adapt. p. 2This very point was addressed in my original thesis. Anthony Giddens is currently more famous as an adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, however, in 1984 he published "The Constitution of Society" which introduces his structuration theory. Structuration suggests that people, organizations and society progress at the same rate, any imbalance in one would lead to failure in the others. I had suggested that the energy industries use of the hierarchical organizational model had exceeded its useful life, and indeed was inhibiting both people and society. I think that we are beginning to see and understand the failures that the energy bureaucracies are having on society. Moving to the industry standard Joint Operating Committee is the fundamental change that is necessary to avoid these failures. How these changes are implemented is through a clean break from the old business model.
Innovation user and innovation manufacturer are the two general "functional" relationships between innovator and innovation. p. 3
In figure 1.1, the increased concentration of innovations towards the right indicates that the likelihood of innovating is higher for users having higher lead user index values. The rise in average innovation attractiveness as one moves from left to right indicates that innovations developed by lead users tend to be more commercially attractive. (Innovation attractiveness is the sum of the novelty of the innovation and the expected future generality of market demand.) p. 4
Mass manufacturers tend to follow a strategy of developing products that are designed to meet the needs of a large market segment well enough to induce purchase from and capture significant profits from a large number of customer. When users' needs are heterogeneous, this strategy of "a few sizes fit all" will leave many users somewhat dissatisfied with the commercial products on offer and probably will leave some users seriously dissatisfied. p. 5
The social efficiency of a system in which individual innovations are developed by individual users is increased if users somehow diffuse what they have developed to others. p. 9
When we say that an innovator freely reveals information about a product or service it has developed, we mean that all intellectual property rights to that information are voluntarily given up by the innovator, and all interested parties are given access to it - the information becomes a public good. p. 9
Innovation by users tends to be widely distributed rather than concentrated among just a very few very innovative users. As a result, it is important for user-innovators to find ways to combine and leverage their efforts. Users achieve this by engaging in many forms of cooperation. Direct, informal user to user cooperation (assisting others to innovate, answering questions, and so on) is common. Organized cooperation is also common, with users joining together in networks and communities that provide useful structure and tools for their interactions and for the distribution of innovations. Innovation communities can increase the speed and effectiveness with which users and also manufacturers can develop and test and diffuse their innovation. They also can greatly increase the ease with which innovators can build larger systems from inter-linkable modules created by community participants. pp. 10 - 11
Intellectual property law was intended to increase the amount of innovation investment. Instead, it now appears that there are economies of scope in both patenting and copyright that allow firms to use these forms of intellectual property law in ways that are directly opposed to the intent of policy makers and to the public welfare. p. 12
User's ability to innovate is improving radically and rapidly as a result of the steadily improving quality of computer software and hardware, improved access to easy to use tools and components for innovation, and access to a steadily richer innovation commons. Today, user firms and even individual hobbyists have access to sophisticated programming tools for software and sophisticated CAD design tools for hardware and electronic. These information based tools can be run on a personal computer, and they are rapidly coming down in price. As a consequence, innovation by users will continue to grow even if the degree of heterogeneity of need and willingness to invest in obtaining a precisely right product remains constant. p.13
I conclude this introductory chapter by reemphasizing that user innovation, free revealing and user innovation communities will flourish under many but not all conditions. What we know about manufacturer - centered innovation is still valid; however, lead user centered innovation patterns are increasingly important, and they present major new opportunities and challenges for us all. p. 17
Professor Lessig has a unique understanding of some of the legal implications of the Internet. I recommend reading his book as a companion to Professor von Hippel's book. Lessig's book provides an understanding of many of the issues and opportunities around intellectual property. I think that the most effective way in which these ideas can be populated and built upon are addressed in Professor Lessig's book, and implemented in People, Ideas & Objects.
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