Innovation, with a little help from your customers' friends

11/21/2010 | Forbes

Instead of using focus groups to generate and test ideas, some companies are now running "friendship groups." Instead of groups of strangers, friendship groups bring together cliques of friends in the hope that inside jokes and shared reference points will allow attendees to be more creative and more forthcoming. "It's amazing, but when people are with their friends, they talk, and they talk differently," says one friendship-group coordinator.

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