I have been for most of my working career a "practitioner," that is someone in business struggling to out-innovate current or future competition. Von Hipple's earlier book, "The Sources of Innovation," back in 1988, was a pathfinding work and got many of us to look more closely at "lead custoners and users" for new ideas and innovations. They were a great source!
In recent years, a new concept, "open market innovation," has helped many of us go beyond our corporate walls to the outside world for new ideas and innovations in designated fields, primarily using the Internet to help cast our net widely.
Proctor & Gamble, for example, help to pioneer this concept, starting in 2000. In 2003, Henry Chesbrough's book, "Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology," went into some detail telling us how to use the concept to improve the flow of worthwhile ideas. His book was followed by C. K. Prahalad, Venkat Ramaswamy's work,
"The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers.
Yet, for some reason von Hipple makes no mention of the Open Market Innovation concept to help cast a net to early adopters and way, way beyond. I wonder why? Certainly, he's not that far out of touch.
But more fundamentally, von Hipple's book is too academic - perhaps written more for an academic audience than practitioners who should be interested in applying his ideas in practice. Perhaps his editor was asleep, or couldn't quite figure out what he was trying to say.
In spite of this drawback, I recomment his book. Perhaps senior executives will give a copy to a junior worker and ask him/her to translate it and recommend what their company should do.