Type of record:
  • Micro method
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Ideal innovation phases for this method:
  1. Innovation Phase
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. 9
  11. 10


The lead user method serves to actively involve product users in the innovation process. As part of the Open Innovation principle, users are selected to develop their own solutions to their problems.

Lead users are individuals or companies that lead the trend and, on their own initiative, anticipate the needs of the broad masses. You are extremely interested in achieving a high benefit through solutions for your needs. Lead users are integrated into the innovation process in order to further develop existing products and identify trends at an early stage.

In a conception phase, which takes place together with representatives of the manufacturer and selected lead users, improvements, alternatives or extensions for existing solutions are developed. The lead users contribute their own ideas and already developed solutions. Following the conception, the results are transferred to a broader market.

The lead user method follows the open innovation approach, which involves customers and users in the innovation process. The providers and users jointly develop the new solutions in a cooperative process.
  • Effective for design innovations
  • Effective for disruptive innovations
  • Effective for incremental innovations and improvements
  • Effective for low complex challenges
  • Effective for medium complex challenges
  • Effective for new business models
  • Effective for product innovations
  • Effective for radical innovations
  • Effective for service innovations
  • P1 Understanding (identify innovation fields - problem solving)
  • P3 Observe (people - environment - product use)
  • P5 Idea Finding (ideation - idea generation - creative phase - incubation)
  • P8 Early Prototyping (testing the idea directly on the user)
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