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How do you become a lead user?

Shape the future as a lead user. How you become a lead user and what people report who have previously been involved.

Lead User Conference

Openness, curiosity, and inspiring exchanges are important ingredients of successful innovations. These essential conditions for a creative environment can be established in innovation workshops. But for many problems, other ingredients are needed:

  • People with a special talent for finding solutions.
  • People with expertise in a subject, discipline, or hobby.

At Lead Innovation, we define such people as lead users. When several such people meet and work together to find a solution to a particular problem, something great always results.



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We at Lead Innovation have been holding what we refer to as lead user conferences for over 20 years. At these two-day workshops, we bring people together to collaborate in solving a problem from the real world. Since we hold such lead user conferences with our partners on a wide variety of topics, we are always looking for motivated candidates.

Here you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the method and the process.


What is the lead user method?

Innovative companies use the lead user method to create something new together with forward-looking, creative, and solution-oriented people. Especially important here is to have a group with as diverse expertise and perspectives as possible. In such interdisciplinary, cross-sector settings, completely new solutions are created for specific problems. The right composition of participants plays a particularly important role, which we at Lead Innovation ensure.


Why do companies work with lead users?

Lead users are often the first to recognize and take advantage of new technologies and trends in the market. By working with them, companies can respond to these changes early on. The ideas and suggestions of lead users can help companies bring innovative products and services to market faster. They provide valuable feedback and help solve problems and find new approaches. A lead user conference is the appropriate format for this.


What happens at a lead user conference?

Lead user conferences are held regarding very different issues from very different industries. The conference is usually held in a conference hotel in Austria. The participants arrive the evening before and the program starts with getting to know the team over dinner.

The next morning at around 8.30 a.m. is when it gets started (the workshop usually takes place right there in the hotel). While ideas are developed individually and in various group settings on the first day, the second day gets into the nitty-gritty in the so-called "concept phase". Individual topics are selected and worked on further in small groups. At the end, these are presented and evaluated. The second day usually ends around 4 p.m., so that a relaxed journey home is still possible for all participants.


How would I benefit from participating as a lead user in an innovation project?

As a lead user, you have the opportunity to actively participate in the design and development of new products or services. You can bring your own needs and experience into the development process and thus ensure that the end product actually meets the requirements and wishes of the target group.

By participating as a lead user, you learn new things about companies, industries, new technologies, market trends, and creative techniques. You work closely with experts from various fields and can thus expand your network.

Working as a lead user is an opportunity for personal development but also requires active participation.



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Does anybody have the potential to become a lead user?

Yes. Every person has the potential to do this because of their interests, education, life experience, or profession. However, other things you need are curiosity, openness, and a willingness to collaborate with others on something new. As a lead user, you have the opportunity to help shape new developments and to communicate with other experts. It can be a rewarding experience if you want to contribute to the development of innovative products.

If the subtitle is not displayed, please watch the video in Youtube.

Sounds interesting? Who can get involved?

Depending on the project, we are always looking for technicians, natural scientists, and social scientists from a wide range of industries and disciplines. But hobbyists and inventors are also in high demand. And often it is not your professional career at all, but a personal interest or a hobby that makes you particularly valuable as a lead user for a project. Depending on the project and the problem, experts from the digital fields or service organizations may also be required.


What do I get for participating as a lead user?

The organizer will cover the costs for travel, accommodation, meals, and after-workshop events (such as a dinner together). The organization and bookings are handled by the Lead Innovation team. However, lead users do not receive any remuneration in the form of a fee for their participation. This is because research on the lead user method has shown that intrinsic motivation is an essential factor for success.


How do I explain that to my boss? Why is it strategically advantageous for companies to send employees as lead users?

Two days at a lead user conference is intense. Many of our participants say afterwards that the conference was like advanced training for them. In addition to the task of thinking one's way into completely new topics and solutions, the setting offers the opportunity to learn about new industries or approaches. Inspiring conversations and professional discussions develop, with immense added value for the participants.

By applying their knowledge in a new context, participants often come up with ideas for their own work. In addition, the participants represent the company with their technical competencies and establish valuable new contacts with experts and company representatives.


How can I become a lead user for Lead Innovation?

Write an email to Pauline Schmidt (Research Specialist at Lead Innovation) briefly describing your qualifications and skills. One of our researchers will contact you promptly and record the first part of your lead user profile. If your profile fits one of our projects, we will contact you.





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