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                                            Crowd-Sourced Businesses: Innovating HOW, Not What!

By Shlomo Maital   

  

Threadless T-Shirt Designed by User

 

How do you create great innovative new products?  With a dynamic (and hugely expensive)  (and inevitably expansive) R&D department, right?

●  Not according to made.com, an online-only furniture retailer. It has no inventory, and no warehouse.  Products are crowd-sourced. Visitors to its website submit designs.  The best become prototypes and are posted. Registered made.com members then vote.  The most popular furniture pieces are then made in China, shipped in containers, and delivered to buyers directly from the Port.

● Threadless.com.  Founders Jake Nikell and Jacob DeHart launched a “thread”, asking people to post T-shirt designs.  The designer gets cash and some free T-shirts, the best of which can be made.  Ten years later, threadless.com has nearly $30 m. (2009) in revenue, 1,200 designs a week are submitted, and winners get $2,000 plus $500  in vouchers.

● Fluevog, a Canadian shoe company, launched OpenSource footwear in 2002.  Customers (known as Fluevogers) upload designs.  Winners have shoes named after them. 

   Is this cheap exploitation? Is it destroying the jobs of R&D engineers and designers?  Or is it a new wave of management innovation, one that focuses on the ‘how’ things are done, rather than on the ‘what’ is done? 

    Innovator – can YOU crowd-source a product or service, not currently designed in this way? 

    And, would you WANT to? 

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
April 2012
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