How Companies Turn Customers' Big Ideas into Innovations

strategy+business/Knowledge@Wharton White Paper
January 12, 2005

Traditional product development has portrayed the inventor, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs, as the hero. The truth is, though, successful product innovation has always required imagination and incisive action from heroes in the lab and in marketing. Whether it's wizards in Menlo Park or Xerox PARC leading the way, the best product development and commercialization processes are based on a dynamic and complex exchange of ideas and interests among engineers, marketing experts, and the end-consumer.

From Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs, the conventional view of product development has always portrayed the inventor as the hero. In fact, the inventor is only part of the process. Edison himself hinted as much when he described the inventor as being a “specialist in high-pressure stimulation of the public imagination.”

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