OnDemand Open House: Professional Certificate Program Innovation & Technology

Missed our Virtual Open House for the Professional Certificate Program in Innovation & Technology? You can still learn how this program will equip you to leverage leading-edge technologies to solve your unique business problems by watching our on-demand recording. Register here to get started.


Coming Soon!
Lead Instructor(s)
Fall 2024
Course Length
3 days
Course Fee
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Global companies, engineers, and entrepreneurs are increasingly searching for, and profiting from, user-developed prototypes. Why? Because user-developed products tend to enjoy greater market success than those developed through traditional means. In this dynamic course, you’ll learn how to identify, adopt, and capitalize on game-changing innovations created by product users. This skill is a secret weapon that will help you bring superior products to market—and maintain competitive advantage in the rapidly evolving design and manufacturing sector.


Course Overview

Across many organizations, research and development departments lead the design and creation of new products and services, but in recent decades, a shift has emerged. Rapid innovations in communication, prototyping, and manufacturing technologies mean that in-house product development is no longer enough. To bring truly original goods to market, it’s essential to also search for, and leverage, designs developed by lead users—customers with unique product needs who are able to develop innovations of their own.

Developed by Professor Eric von Hippel of MIT Sloan School of Management, the Lead User Method (LUM) is a strategy for identifying lead users and adopting and capitalizing on their prototypes. A testament to its efficacy, empirical studies have shown that when organizations use the LUM, the products they produce tend to have greater market success than those developed through more traditional means. In fact, a number of leading global brands have employed lead user collaboration to great success, including 3M, Adidas, Lego, and Johnson & Johnson.

In this first open program on the LUM, led by Professor von Hippel and MIT Open’s Erdin Beshimov, you’ll acquire the knowledge you need to incorporate the method into your innovation strategy—and use powerful machine learning to identify user innovations at scale. You’ll explore core concepts through a series of dynamic lectures, group discussions, and hands-on activities, and emerge from the experience with a roadmap for keeping pace in the ever-evolving design and manufacturing sector.

Why should you invest in this course?
Learning the LUM can be transformative for your organization and career—and has the potential to deliver a substantial return on investment. 

  • Organizations: Intrapreneurs
    In charge of your organization’s innovation strategy? Mastering the LUM will help you identify and develop groundbreaking products that have the capacity to maximize your enterprise’s profits and market share. 
  • Start-ups: Entrepreneurs
    Working with lead users to bring their innovations to market is a powerful way to start or grow your business, enhance your market reputation, and gain an edge over leading companies in your industry.
  • Subject matter experts: Engineers and product developers
    The LUM will help you identify the latest market trends and unique consumer demands—information that you can leverage to enhance your product development strategy and create innovations that have the power to upend markets.

Certificate of Completion from MIT Professional Education

Powering Product Innovation cert image
Learning Outcomes
  • Explore the four stages of the LUM: Start of the lead user process, identification of needs and trends, identification of lead users, and concept design
  • Learn how to apply the LUM in the search for user-designed innovations
  • Develop a toolkit for DIY innovation
  • Leverage state-of-the-art machine learning to identify user innovations at scale

Program Outline

Day One:

  • 9:00 AM: Tens of millions of consumers worldwide innovate (von Hippel)
  • 10:00 AM: User advantage in functionally novel innovations (von Hippel)
  • 11:00 AM: Lead User Method examples and case discussions (Beshimov)
  • 12:00 PM: Lunch speaker and post-lunch walk-and-talk with classmates (TBD)
  • 2:00 PM: Low-cost innovation niche—the innovator’s powerful advantage (Beshimov)
  • 3:00 PM: Producer vs. user entrepreneurship (Beshimov)
  • 4:00 PM: MIT lab visit and end-of-day discussion over drinks with faculty and classmates (Beshimov)

Day Two:

  • 9:00 AM: Why users have greater design freedom than producers (von Hippel)
  • 10:00 AM: The logic behind offering users “toolkits” to help them innovate (von Hippel)
  • 11:00 AM: Toolkits examples and case discussion (Beshimov)
  • 12:00 PM: Lunch speaker and post-lunch walk-and-talk with classmates (TBD)
  • 2:00 PM: Workshop: Design a toolkit for your product (Beshimov)
  • 4:00 PM: Startup visit and end-of-day discussion over drinks with faculty and classmates (Beshimov)

Day Three:

  • 9:00 AM: Using pyramiding to find lead user innovations (Beshimov)
  • 11:00 AM: Using machine learning to identify user innovations at scale (von Hippel)
  • 12:00 PM: Lunch speaker and post-lunch walk-and-talk with classmates (von Hippel)
  • 2:00 PM: Why people often resist innovations—and what you can do about it (Beshimov)
  • 3:00 PM: MGH visit and post-visit discussion (TBD)
  • 5:00 PM: Final dinner and keynote speaker (TBD)

Links and Resources


  • Powering Product Innovation: Q&A with MIT’s Erdin Beshimov
    • MassTLC spoke with lecturer at MIT and a Senior Director of Experiential Learning Erdin Beshimov about the Powering Product Innovation course, how AI technology integrates into the lead user method, and why professional education matters.
Who Should Attend

This course is designed for participants who have a bachelor's degree (at a minimum) and at least three years of professional experience. Professionals who will particularly benefit from the curriculum include:

  • Entrepreneurs who are searching for original innovations to develop and bring to market.
  • Engineers looking to build products that have the power to disrupt industries.
  • Directors of innovation who need to stay abreast of the latest trends in innovation theory and practice.
  • Product development leaders who are responsible for competitive analysis, and looking for novel ways to generate original products and services for their organizations.
Download the Course Brochure
Powering Product Innovation