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OvercrowdedDesigning Meaningful Products in a World Awash with Ideas$
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Roberto. Verganti

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035361

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035361.001.0001

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Innovation from the Inside Out

Innovation from the Inside Out

Making Gifts

(p.73) 4 Innovation from the Inside Out

Roberto Verganti

The MIT Press

This chapter shows why in a world overcrowded by ideas innovation should come from the inside-out, i.e. the process should start from ourselves rather than from clients or outsiders. Traditional innovation processes are typically oriented the other way around: from the outside in. Their focus on solutions requires us to look first outside our organization, and outside ourselves; when we want to innovate solutions we start by going out and observing how users use existing products; then we are advised to “think outside the box” in order to be more creative; and even to invite outsiders to propose masses of novel ideas. Instead, the search for a new direction, i.e. the innovation of meaning, comes from the inside out. It’s a vision that comes from us and is offered to people. A gift to love because, foremost, we love it and we authentically believe it will make their lives better. And it could not be otherwise. You can borrow solutions from outsiders, but you cannot borrow directions and visions from outsiders: you cannot wear the eyes of others. You have to see things yourself. Or, put differently, when it comes to innovation of meanings, the myth of outside-in innovation does not work. We need to take exactly the opposite direction: from the inside out. This has three reasons, which we will elaborate in depth. First, meanings are interpretations, and interpretations cannot be outsourced; they can only come from us. Second, our own interpretations are precious; people will never love something we do not love ourselves. Third, we have the responsibility to drive the world in the direction that we believe makes more sense; this is good for people, for business, and for us; if we abdicate, what is our role in this world?

Keywords:   Inside-out innovation, Vision, Leadership, responsible innovation, outside-the-box, innovation process

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