Companies do not have to reconceive their business systems to start experimenting with distributed cocreation. In many cases, the first step is to identify where it may already have spouted within the company. At LEGO, for example, the executive team recognized the possibilities in part because of the success of a product launched in 1998: Mindstorms, programmable bricks originally developed as an educational tool through a partnership with the MIT Media Lab. A remarkable community of Mindstorms enthusiasts—adults as well as children—embraced the product and began to share designs online. This success prompted LEGO’s executives to consider how the company could use its online LEGO Gallery to harness the creative efforts of customers to develop ideas or products in its main toy-brick business.
Even the most advanced businesses are just taking the first few steps on a long path toward distributed cocreation. Companies should experiment with this new approach to learn both how to use it successfully and more about its long-term significance. Pioneers may have ideas about opportunities to capture value from distributed cocreation, but fresh ones will appear. To benefit from them, companies should be flexible about all aspects of these experiments
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