Charles Leadbeater, a researcher at the London think tank Demos, gave an insightful talk at TED TALK on collaborative innovation and the role of the consumers in it. He starts his talk by giving an example of how the mountain bike, which is now around a 58 $ Billion business, was created by frustrated bike users from north California who mixed and matched parts from motorcycle and traditional bikes.
He argues that, when the internet combines with passionate consumers who are knowledgeable, who have the incentive to innovate and have the right tools, you get an explosive collaborative innovation network.
Creativity is evolving from a place with special people in special places e.g RnD centers in the middle of nowhere who finally drop their ideas in a pipe line to consumers who are passive. Now the ideas are flowing back up the pipeline and are usually ahead of the producers. Most creativity, nowadays is cumulative and collaborative e.g Wikipedia is a collaborative innovation network in itself.
There is a struggle between the closed organisational forms and the open organisational forms. Before, the old were doing everything possible to stop the open organisational forms from proceeding because they were threatened by them. But now we see many organisations moving towards the open model of collaborative innovation.
Watch the whole talk at: http://www.ted.com/talks/charles_leadbeater_on_innovation#t-840250