Category Archives: Innovation

The vicious circle of modern IT product management

I’ll admit it – I have a serious issue with the way most of the tech industry goes about discovering their users’ needs. The fact that I clearly understand why PMs everywhere keep on stepping on the same rake hitting themselves in the face time and time again doesn’t make it any better.

The script would be very familiar to anyone who’s been a PM or worked with one:

  • Identify a handful of key large accounts;
  • Ask key people there what they want you to develop;
  • Develop all the things!!
  • Try to figure out how to make the rest of your potential customer base buy what you’ve developed (a.k.a., “get busy hammering square pegs into round holes”).

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Innovator’s guide to “purple cow” breeding, Part 2

(This is Part 2 of the series. See Part 1 by clicking here)

What sucks about the traditional innovation methods?

In the last post, I briefly touched on the traditional innovation methods, without going into too many specifics around them. Let’s have a closer look at what are the most common methods and what are their shortcomings, and then we’ll see how the methodology I am talking about addresses them.
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Innovator’s guide to “purple cow” breeding, Part 1

Fascination with “purple cows”

As far as I know, the term “purple cow” was coined by Seth Godin, who has a book by the same name. Essentially, it is about achieving success by being exceptional, outstanding, a “purple cow”. During early 2000s, I lived through Ethernet’s meteoric rise to dominance; first as Metro and later as Carrier Ethernet, demolishing everything in its path. A clear example, in my mind, of a true “purple cow”, a major disruption.

Since then, I got increasingly intrigued an fascinated by a process of coming up with a “purple cow” type of idea, spending uncountable hours thinking about it, trying to work it out. (Somewhat disappointingly, Seth’s book didn’t provide any workable pointers to just how one gets themselves one of those cows. It simply says that if you get one, good things are bound to happen. Oh, well.)

You might ask, “what’s wrong with the traditional innovation methods”? Well, for a start, they tend to produce too few “purple cows”, and too many square pegs for what turns out to be round holes. I have strong aversion to waste, and thus just couldn’t accept that there isn’t a way other than “try, fail, tweak, try again”. Yes, I like certainty.

To cut the long story short, it turned out that somebody did come up with a method to breed those “purple cows”, after all. With certainty. In this series of blog posts I will talk about it.

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Mid-market “Innovator’s Dilemma”

Before we begin, a word of “big thanks!” to Ivan, who has recently plugged my blog on his most excellent site ipSpace (not that it needs any introduction). I guess I should try to turn “occasionally” into a more “regularly”. Time will tell.

But let’s get to it.

Today I would like to talk about something different: innovation. In particular, how badly it sucks when it comes to the needs of IT houses of mid-market companies, and why.

What is “mid-market”, anyway? For the purpose of this post I would like to define it as “anything with more than a couple hundred employees, but with less than a handful of thousands”. Industry doesn’t make much difference – just the size. Yes, it is a fairly simplistic view, but for the purpose of this post it will have to do.

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