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Learnings from the first three weeks of REMODEL: Open source hardware is complex
4. April 2018
The first run-through of the REMODEL programme in which 10 Danish manufacturing companies go through an 8-week design-sprint to explore new business strategies based on open source principles has begun - and we are now three weeks in. What have we learned from their journey so far?

The first three work packages of the REMODEL design sprint - which we call phases - took the companies from having little or no prior knowledge of the concept of open source towards discovering and understanding the basic principles as well as prompted them to start to imagine how that could be used in their own business.

Could the open sourcing of enzyme research in Novozymes or outdoor furniture from OUT-SIDER accelerate innovation? Could open sourcing parts of Grundfos' water pump systems or TagTomat's urban systems open up brand new markets? These and many more questions were on the table as the ten companies got ready to dive into the REMODEL programme.

Phase 1: Discovering open source
The companies started out by learning the basics of open source principles by getting insights into some successful manufacturing companies who apply open principles already - in varying degrees. We used Tesla to exemplify a company which is only slightly open (and not open source by definition). Then we used OpenDesk as an example of a company which is partially open, and finally, we used Ultimaker to highlight how it works when a company is almost fully open.

These examples showed how going open can make up the foundation of a financially sustainable business strategy in different ways, as well as highlighted how being less open can actually limit a great business potential. This caused some very interesting discussions in many of the companies.

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Phase 2: Imagining going open
In the second week, the companies started diving into imagining what it would look like if they were to open source a product from their existing portfolio (or parts/elements of it). They also started looking into and selecting who their most important users are, through user stories, and, more importantly, started envisioning what might motivate these users to engage with their potentially open product in order to become co-creators. An interesting side bonus, unrelated to the open source theme, was that several of the companies explained how there were actually disagreements about which segments make up the companies key target audiences. So this provided a good opportunity to discuss some very basic tenets of the business foundation - as well to align around them.

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Phase 3: Visualising user journeys
Next, they started transforming one of their key user stories into more detailed storyboards that described the kind of interaction this user would have with the now open product. They also started to identify key elements in that interaction and discussed how to open some of these elements (for instance designs, data, documentation, etc.). These open key elements work as cornerstones in open business models and are the assets which communities of co-creators can potentially engage.

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What have we learned from following the companies on their journeys through this first third of the REMODEL programme? It is still early stage, but already now (even before we have even gotten really deep into the realm of user testing, community building and more complex issues like licenses) that opening up products can be a little complex. However across the board of companies spirits are high; maybe even higher than at the outset of the programme: It is clear that they are starting to get a glimpse of the immense power embedded in creating the kind of radical user involvement and co-creation that open sourcing allows.

Stay tuned for the coming updates as the companies dive deeper into the intricacies of opening their products and building new business models for the Internet-age.

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This article is part of a series about the REMODEL programme

Want to learn more about what the REMODEL programme is? Go here: About REMODEL 
 
Or curious to know which 10 innovative manufacturing companies are taking part?  Go here: 10 manufacturing companies are ready to experiment with open source

To get the grand overview of all writings about the REMODEL business experiments in open source manufacturing, go here: REMODEL

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