important market trend” and “anticipate relatively high bene its from obtaining a solution to their needs.”40 This definition points to a person who is dissatisfied with a product not because something in their context or situation has changed slightly, what they need is signi icantly different from what is currently available. Lead users can often be found within marginalized but dedicated activities such as extreme sports. For example, a serious “[mountain] biker may be totally unwilling to compromise about getting mountain biking equipment that is precisely right for his or her specific needs.”41 Because of their focus on optimization Von Hippel dubs lead users “user innovators” and implores designers to pay attention. What can designers learn from looking at lead user innovations? How are the changes they make to a product different from those who satisfice? These two types of adaptation are reminiscent of what organizational learning theorist Chris Argyris calls “single-loop” and “double-loop” changes. Single- loop changes are in reaction to a simple feedback loop. Small, incremental, constant, satisficing changes to a product, “like a thermostat turning the heater on and off.”42 In a double-loop, minor adjustments are not enough and major changes are made, “the thermostat is reset to a different temperature entirely . . . the existing habitat, no matter how perfectly re ined, no longer serves the larger purpose.” Single-loop changes are made to maintain situational equilibrium using a small amount of known variables, double-loop changes fundamentally alter and re-optimize for a new situation. Lead users adapt products in a double-loop manner that designers will have trouble anticipating since they tend to make new and transformative changes. Unlike most people, lead users make changes to the slower foundational
40 41 42
Eric Von Hippel, Democratizing Innovation (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2005), 22. Von Hippel, 34. Brand, 167.