"The amount of money individual consumers spent making and improving products was more than twice as large as the amount spent by all British firms combined in research and development over a three-year period." Wow. From Innovation Far Removed from the Lab by Patricia Cohen. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/10/arts/10innovative.html?_r=1 (Thanks for the link Bob!)
Apparently research has discovered that humans have a tendency to hack the stuff around us - from furniture to software - to suit our personal needs. Grassroots innovation - perhaps it is less so about innovation from a business perspective, and more so about celebrating our innate ability to create, to change our environment to suit ourselves (climate change deniers be damned).
Not surprisingly, business, which has long held the view that innovation comes from the producers and not the consumers, was surprised by this. The “how can we leverage this” question was raised duly.
My position: consumer led innovation is not the sort of thing that corporations can even begin to leverage effectively until business as a practice becomes truly humane. Only when business works and behaves like proper decent humans, can it truly partake of the full gamut of human creativity.