In my previous post, I gave a brief overview of The Lean Startup theory of innovation by Eric Ries, and walked through its key concepts. As Ries describes in the introduction part to his book, his motivation to write it came mostly from his observation of the troublesome rate by which startups all around him were failing .
According to him, these are the two key reasons why startups fail:
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is approaching its 10th anniversary; published in September 2011, the book has been a tremendous success, selling over 1 million copies. The book has gave birth, or at the minimum popularized, terms, concepts and methodologies that have become the cornerstone of the day-to-day conducts of startups. Specifically, the term Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which is associated with Ries, has become one of the most popular terms governing discussions of innovation and early-stage execution. …
Remember the days of the old schoolyard
We used to laugh a lot, oh don’t you?
Remember the days of the old schoolyard
When we had imaginings and we had
All kinds of things and we laughed
And needed love, yes, I do
Oh and I remember you
Remember the Days / Cat Stevens
Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. We all have our moments of reflecting fondly on the past, and how things used to be so much better (or at the minimum ‘simpler’). …
We go about our lives as consumers making transactions. Think of the last time you bought a pizza slice or a pair of shoes. A brief engagement with the merchant at the point-of-sale and an exchange of money for value. Transactions are transient and ephemeral; the value you pay for is provided then and there. Whether you will return in the future to the pizza parlor or shoes’ store, depends just as much on factors of chance and circumstances as it depends on your satisfaction with the product.
Sellers don’t like much a transaction-model as they prefer to have more control over the process than rely on the caprice of the customer. This is why loyalty programs exist as a means to keep the merchant in the consumers’ mind and a vehicle to feed him constantly with incentives to buy, by offering a stream of price manipulations typically in the form of discounts. Given that sustaining an existing customer is generally cheaper than acquiring a new one, ‘loyalty programs’ and ‘customer relationship management’ are conceived as key elements in a transaction-driven world. …
Ok … I’m going to piss some people off with this post; to make things worse, some of them are my close friends. Would it help if I start by saying that I, myself, am a software engineer that has practiced product management through large parts of my career?
Secondly, I’m sure to make some wild generalizations here which will do injustice to many great product managers who happen to have a background in engineering, but I’m trying to make a statement here, and you can’t make a statement without highlighting insights which are based on generalizations, and you can’t make these without potentially hurting some people down the way… so, I apologize for it. …
Medium, the publishing platform, has recently launched an overhaul of its application. Its founder, Ev Williams, has written a post on the company’s blog, where he gives the rationale behind the change.
It is titled “Toward a more relational Medium”. He writes:
“Among other ways, the internet has changed media consumption along a spectrum that you might call relational to transactional. Think of (or imagine, if you’re not old enough) when you got your morning newspaper or your favorite magazine and read articles because they were in that newspaper or magazine. Sure, you didn’t read all of them, but what you read was very heavily influenced by where it came from. You picked the source first and then you picked the articles. You built affinity and trust for the sources (publications) you liked best, which read to repeat reading and/or subscription. …
In part one of my post series, I argued that by thinking of Software as Products, analogue to manufactured goods, we have subscribed ourselves to an engineering-driven mindset that fails to capture the customers’ expectations and results in failures in market-product fit. Part two introduced three modern approaches to innovation and software development that could help reduce the gap between what we develop and what customers want.
Both the Job-to-be-Done theory and the design-thinking movement make a strong case towards innovation that considers the entire dimension space of customers’ challenges including aspects of technical, psychological, social, and emotional nature. The cloud computing revolution and the popularization of a SaaS business model both provide a solid infrastructure needed to deliver on this promise by changing the nature of software delivery into something which is streamed, continuous and recurring, but a third element is missing to address this multi-dimensional challenge — The Experience. …
My previous post discussed how the industry of PC software has evolved based on the analogy of physical goods; I argued that we have been using the wrong metaphor in referring to software-based offering as products. I also pointed out how advancements in technology have removed traditional constraints in a way which is gradually changing the software medium to introduce what I referred to as “streamed software”.
And yet, for the most part, too many companies choose to adopt a highly conservative engineering-thinking approach when they address the challenge of developing software. The mantra of “if you build it, they will come” has been the prominent one, as I can attest through many startups and large companies I either worked at or worked with. Too many founders start developing the product with only a faint idea of what customers really want. they will typically talk with few potential customers before they raise some money but very quickly the company shifts most of its energy to R&D. The conventional thinking has it that first you build, then you prove it works by attracting few early adaptors, you raise some extra money and only then you start scaling by adding people in product management, marketing, sales etc. etc…. …
Writer’s note: This post is part one of a series of three about software products; it was originally published on my LinkedIn profile on 29-Oct-2020
In the software business, we use the term ‘Product’ regularly. We have a product strategy and a product portfolio, we hire Product Managers and Product Designers, we talk about selling and buying products etc.. so it’s worthwhile to put some thought into what we consider to be a software product and what do we mean when we talk in these terms.
I’m no economist or historian, but growing up in the pinnacle of the personal computer revolution in the mid-eighties, I can safely assume that the term Software Product has been popularized during that period, and for good reasons. Historically, the term Product has been strongly associated with a ‘manufactured good’ — be it a drill, a refrigerator, a shirt or a book — it’s a physical thing, packaged in a box and bought ‘off-the-shelf’; it has a price and a pretty clear definition of value. That TV set which you bought at the mall for $300 is clearly defined by its specification. And i’m not suggesting this is the only definition for a Product but it’s clearly the canonical one. …