This study focuses on how a company can generate innovation opportunities by exploring unexpressed customer knowledge. In an open innovation paradigm, exploration can be performed via an in-depth or broad search of resources beyond organisational boundaries. Salespeople are an essential channel to an in-depth search in relation to customers, since salespeople possess rich knowledge of the customers. However, organisations do not pay adequate attention to the rich knowledge rising from the salespeople's experience and precognition. The paper answers the following question: How can a company generate innovation opportunities by exploring unexpressed customer knowledge? Based on an action research project in an organisation, the study presents an empirical example of how innovation opportunities can be generated by having salespeople apply an anthropological perspective when interacting with customers. The acquired understanding is then shared in a community of practice consisting of salespeople and managers in a core group, and production personnel in a peripheral group.
Proceedings of the 10th International Cinet Conference, 2009
aktionsforskning; community of practice; customer knowledge; sales; action research