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Customer Innovation Centers: The Ying And Yang of Culture And Technology

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on December 27, 2009

3M, Hershey’s and many other corporations are setting up places where their customers can visit, check out available technologies, and co-create with company technologists. Why don’t the auto companies try these customer innovation centers out? Why don’t ALL institutions them.

In the wonder discussion over Don Norman’s provocation—technology always leads the way to disruptive innovation—it’s good to look at what companies are doing on the ground to generate innovation. 3M, long-known for its innovation, is bringing together culture and technology, customers and engineers, to make useful new products and services and experiences. Are they disruptive? Who can tell?

Reader Comments


December 28, 2009 12:19 PM

To the extend the company culture stifles innovation, everyone involved can tell.

That is not to say these companies do, just that it can be predictable. These are great starts, but pockets of innovation often emerge, only to be snuffed out later.

Past performance is a decent, if imperfect, predictor. And you can take a look at the design of such a customer innovation center and see whether disruptive innovation has be carefully safeguarded against.

Who Knows? Anyone who can lecture Asia on how design navigates a world in change and creates economic growth. It is right up your alley.

Why not rate each customer innovation center on "attunement," your new favorite concept?


December 29, 2009 8:15 AM

Having read this thought-provoking NY Times article, I wonder why Customer Innovation Centers (CICs) are located near but not at the heart of R&D sites. Is there something thought-limiting (intimidating maybe?) about the boundaries a company's R&D center that these CICs are trying to break away with? Or is it that companies are trying to strike the global reach / local touch balance by decentralising a number of CICs (I read 3M has now 40 of them) while increasingly concentrating their research on a very small number of global-scale R&D sites?


April 6, 2010 10:41 AM

The term for the Chinese philosophy of polar forces is "Yin and Yang" (or simply Yin-Yang), not 'Ying' and Yang.

The Ying Yang Twins are a pop music group; "Ying and Yang" was a comedy team during the late-1970s/early-1980s, not unlike Cheech and Chong.


June 15, 2010 3:01 PM

автор можно узнать вас ICQ для обмена постовыми

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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