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12 posts from August 2013

When we reach the day where the product IS the platform

Doc Searls (of Cluetrain fame) has a wonderful blog post about how the products you buy should contain their own communication platform back to the people who produced them. So if the product has a problem, it can help you notify the maker. This sounds like consumer nirvana to me!

Doc Searls: Products-as-Platforms is Not a Marketing Gimmick, 2013-Aug

Tq130809dpOnce products themselves become platforms for relationships, companies will get much better market intelligence, in addition to genuine loyalty. And once personal clouds (and components such as TalkTags) become widespread and standardized, all CRM systems will have one simple way to relate to customers, rather than as many different ways as there are companies in the world. (Which today is another severe inconvenience for customers and companies alike.)

This will cause a profound shift in the marketplace: one in which relationships between demand and supply become both personal and real — also, live and mobile.


TFS: A premortem to strengthen every project

We can improve our planning. WeTq130806pd can fight back against competitor blindness and irrational optimism. Daniel Kahneman recommends an idea developed by Gary Klein called a premortem.

A typical premortem begins after the team has been briefed on the plan. The leader starts the exercise by informing everyone that the project has failed spectacularly. Over the next few minutes those in the room independently write down every reason they can think of for the failure—especially the kinds of things they ordinarily wouldn’t mention as potential problems, for fear of being impolitic. For example, in a session held at one Fortune 50–size company, an executive suggested that a billion-dollar environmental sustainability project had “failed” because interest waned when the CEO retired. Another pinned the failure on a dilution of the business case after a government agency revised its policies.

Next the leader asks each team member, starting with the project manager, to read one reason from his or her list; everyone states a different reason until all have been recorded. After the session is over, the project manager reviews the list, looking for ways to strengthen the plan.


To help the economy, try making the unpopular choice

At the Economist, blogger "G.I." reviews evidence that our increasing income gaps are due to a 'winner take all' phenomenon driven by herd behavior that favors the popular. While I don't Tq130802dgthink it's the complete explanation, I'm sure it plays a role.

Choosing is hard work, and better information doesn't necessarily make it easier. So my suggestion is that we try to even income out by choosing something unpopular. You don't have to do it everytime, and you don't have to choose a dog, but all other things being equal... choose the unpopular. You'll have an adventure and the income gap will get less support.

The Economist Free exchange blog: Popularity, luck and herding, 2013-Jul-22, by G.I.

Similarly, as social media and online market places proliferate, artists and entrepreneurs must worry that no matter how good their product is, it won’t matter if they can’t crack the most popular list.


Recruiting users manually

Figuring out how to be useful to people is hard. Especially is you have to find congruity between what you like to do and what they need. Most of us look for a job "opening." I'd rather decide who I want to work for--then figure out what I can do to help them.

PaulGraham.com: Do Things that Don't Scale, 2013-Jul

Almost all startups are fragile initially. And that's one of the biggest things inexperienced founders and investors (and reporters and know-it-alls on forums) get wrong about them. They unconsciously judge larval startups by the standards of established ones. They're like someone looking at a newborn baby and concluding "there's no way this tiny creature could ever accomplish anything."


TFS: Get lots of ideas from your competition

Chapter 24 of Thinking, Fast and Slow is called "The Engine of Capitalism." It is, of course, about irrational optimism. But that's not the only type of bias which afflects entrepreneurs. One of the others is "competition neglect." Tq130730bwWe become so focused on the originality of our ideas, we forget that we have competition, and they are moving in on customers at the same time as we are. 

As a way of preventing ourselves from losing track of the competition, we can make it a practice to gather ideas from them on a regular basis. Talking with customers is wonderful, but talking to the competition is so much more exciting! Even if you don't share James Altucher's desire to take them to lunch, you should always be studying them, collecting as much information from them as you do from your customers.