The Lag-User Method: Using laggards as a source of innovative ideas

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The literature on user innovation has not considered laggards - the last group of users to adopt a product - as a source of new ideas for innovative products and services. In this paper, we develop the Lag-User Method to investigate laggards' role in the process of idea generation and new product development (NPD) and so enable firms to gain access to their insights. We study laggards for 4 years in three countries and apply the Lag-User Method to different technologies, products, and services, thereby generating 62 innovative ideas across a wide range of industries and sectors. These ideas are discussed with executives to obtain managerial insights. Our studies reveal that laggards who generate new ideas (i.e. lag-users) can enrich NPD. Being coached through the systematic Lag-User Method, they can come up with radical, really new, or incremental innovations. Moreover, applying the method increased laggards' perception regarding their (a) understanding of innovation, (b) perception that people can learn to innovate, (c) perception of their ability to develop new products on their own, (d) confidence about their own new ideas, and (e) perception of considering themselves capable of innovating. Thus, we propose that by involving lag-users in idea generation and NPD process, both academia and firms can improve the effectiveness of NPD, overcome barriers to adoption of innovations, cross the chasm, and accelerate the diffusion of their new products or services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-77
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Engineering and Technology Management - JET-M
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • Diffusion of innovation
  • Innovation toolkit
  • Lag-user
  • Laggard
  • New product development method
  • Open innovation
  • Resistance to innovation
  • Simplicity
  • User innovation


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