All posts by 341931rh

World’s Smartest Lightbulb meets Smart users!

According to Randall et al (2005) moving the specification decisions of a product from producer to user can be a valuable decision considering that the user is the agent in the value chain with the most knowledge about user preferences.

In the case of Philip’s HUE, this was certainly situation. The HUE lighting system uses LED bulbs – with a twist! Opposed to being controlled by a switch, the Hue bulbs are controlled with your smartphone using an IOS app. The light lets you switch between a wide spectrum of colours and brightness settings, allowing you to customize the lighting in your home around mood or setting (Forbes, 2013). The “how many years does it take to change a lightbulb” is an amusing creative video that will allow you to get a feel for the product.

When the product was launched late in 2012, HUE had an enthusiastic group of users and hardware/software developers seeking to deliver extending compatible apps and integration with other products. Thus, Philips answered to this by formally launching HUE LED Lamp APIs and a software development kit. This opened the playing field for third party developers to create new, exciting applications using light (Philips 2013).

This was no mistake considering that the HUE community created rich functionality for an enhanced customer experience (Philips 2013). A cool example is that external developers have created apps that integrate Hue with music. Hue Disco controls HUE lamps dynamically based on the music beat picked up by the microphone in the smartphone (Ledsmagazine, 2013). Another example is a scheduling application that can integrate with a phone’s calendaring application.

The developers can use the new tools to more easily develop apps and this is still happening today. For example, manufactures currently working on universal TV remote controls are considering adding HUE support (LedsMagazine, 2013). Other devices such as thermostats might integrate HUE as well. (LedsMagayine, 2013)

According to Kevin Toms, Developer Advocate of Hue’s software developers’ platform, the response from the HUE community has been incredibly positive (Philips, 2013). Philips thus aims to continue redefining the possibilities of light by enabling developers to create apps that customers want and need.


How did Philips leverage developer communities for innovation?

  • Creating tools, guidelines and software libraries to support development
  • Facilitating Hackathons and Developer conferences
  • Being present and supporting discussions on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Community-founded sites)
  • Embracing the community!

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Results: Generating Innovation and PR that translates into sales!

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How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity

In Harvard’s Business Review article “How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity”, Ed Catmull, computer scientist and current president of Pixar Animations and Walt Disney Animation Studios sheds some light on how Pixar continuously turns novel ideas into blockbuster films we all love.

Catmull is passionate about creating a sustainable creative organization that according to him can only be supported in an environment

  • where lasting relationships matter
  • where it is safe to tell the truth
  • where the management’s job is not to prevent risk but to have the capacity to recover when failures occur
  • where own assumptions are challenged
  • where there is a continuous search for the flaw that could destroy the company culture

Catmull stresses that creativity is not a mysterious solo act. In filmmaking and many other kinds of complex product development, creativity involves a large number of people from different disciplines working effectively together to solve a great deal of problems. Since a movie contains tens of thousands of ideas, the director and the other creative leaders of a production do not come up with all the ideas by themselves. Rather, every single member in the 200-250 person production group makes suggestions. Creativity must be present at every level of every artistic and technical part. To come about this, there must be a strong feel for community where the environment nurtures trusting and respective relationships and unleashes everyone’s creativity.

Thus, what is happening at Pixar is what Majchrzak et al (2013) hope to see in collaborative platforms, where people should make use of the community. Rather, the authors found that there is still minimal collaboration among participants, and minimal feedback-based idea evolution (Majchrzak et al, 2013)

At Pixar it is all about the talented people, not just a set of good ideas. Catmull explains that if you want to be original you have to accept the uncertainty, even when it’s uncomfortable, and have the capability to recover when the organization takes a big risk and fails. The key to being able to recover: talented people! When Pixar hit a bit of a hard time when producing Toy Story 2 Catmull said that “If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they’ll screw it up. But if you give a mediocre idea to a great team, they’ll make it work”.

Catmull’s idea about fostering collective creativity encompasses 4 practises that are not only interesting for other companies to adopt practically, but could also be useful for facilitating teamwork at university for instance! 🙂

  1. Empower your creatives. Giving your creative people control over every stage of idea development
  2. Create a peer culture. Encourage people across your organization to help each other produce the best work.
  3. Free up communication. The most efficient way to solve problems in complex projects like film-making, is to trust people to address difficulties directly, without first asking for permission. Thus, give everyone the freedom to communicate with anyone.
  4. Craft a learning environment. Reinforce the mind-set that you’re all learning – and it’s fun to learn together!
  5. Get more out of postmortems. People generally do not like to talk about what went wrong after completing a project and prefer to move on looking back at what went right. Postmortems should thus be structured so that it stimulates discussion.


  • Catmull, Ed. (2010), How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity, Harvard Business Review, 12(1)
  • Majchrzak, A., & Malhotra, A. (2013). Towards an information systems perspective and research agenda on crowdsourcing for innovation. Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 22(4), 257-268

Consumers vs. Company Professionals in Idea Generation

(This post is based on the article: ‘The Value of Crowdsourcing: Can users really compete with professionals in Generating New Business Ideas’ by Poetz, Marion K. & Schreier, Martin 2012)

Involving consumers in generating new ideas though crowdsourcing is a relatively novel alternate source of product idea generation, previously being the exclusive domain of designers, engineers and marketers. Where some are wildly enthusiastic about outsourcing ideas to the “crowd”, others have been skeptical. The writers of this article join the debate and have both users and professionals from the respective company solve a relevant problem in the market for baby products.

The main question arising for this article is simple: who can generate better ideas for new products: the professionals or the potential users/consumers?

Theoretically, the findings of this study demonstrate that user ideas score on average higher in terms of novelty and customer benefit, whilst scoring somewhat lower in terms of feasibility. This shows that professionals are more capable of coming up with ideas that can more easily be developed in a marketable product. However, the average values for feasibility among all users were relatively high, contrasting greatly with average values for novelty and customer benefit.

More interestingly, however, the study revealed that the best ideas overall tended to be more heavily concentrated among users compared to the company’s professionals.

Practically, the findings suggest that crowdsourcing among users might complement the work of a firm’s professionals in the idea generation stage of NPD (New Product Development). Hence, the authors claim that the aim of this study was not to question the general importance of professionals in idea generation. Rather, that an “optimal” approach in practice might more often than not lie in a combination of the two groups, where professionals collaborate with users in some way. Concluding, the findings of this study constitute an important contribution to justify the more active involvement of users in idea generation.

In what situations can we expect similar results so that firms might derive commercially attractive new product ideas from users?

It can depend on the following 3 things:

  • The underlying industry or the respective product category, as well as the nature of the specific problem for which the firm wishes to innovate
  • The users’ motivation may be strongly related to their willingness to invest in generating new product ideas and/or to share them with firms.
  • The amount of ‘qualified’ users attracted. In the above case, the average quality of user-generated ideas was relatively high, indicating that in this specific case highly qualified users were attracted. This needn’t always be the situation

Summarizing, this study shows that the positive effect of users compared to professionals in idea generation is moderated by factors related to the users’ capabilities and motivations, as well as the design of the search and attraction process. The aforementioned factors hence determine when the findings could be replicated.


Poetz, Marion K. & Schreier, Martin (2012), The Value of Crowdsourcing: Can users really compete with professionals in Generating New Business Ideas, Journal of Product Innovation Management , 29(2), 245-256