When he asked about my work, I told him that we design software products in collaboration with customers so that we can create software that actually solves problems for customers. I also explained the co-innovation model to him.
He told me that the model is a good one because the best products are the ones designed by customers and people who will eventually use, distribute or sell the product. He then went on to share how textile designers and manufacturers design fabrics in collaboration with dealers and small retailers.
He said that good product marketing managers in the textile industry spent 50% of their time on the road talking to dealers, distributors and retailers. Product marketers learned about market trends, discussed design decisions and reviewed product problems with dealers and distributors. Distributors can give clear inputs on the design of the fabric, the quality of the fabric and trends in local markets.
I asked him about the people involved in this collaborative design process. He said that apart from the marketing manager, designers and production heads joined the conversation when possible.
I guess co-innovation started in traditional industries such as textiles and is adopted by the technology industry. Co-innovation works.
Image from http://delhibaba.blogspot.com/2007/03/delhi-bazzars.html