Monday, November 28, 2016

Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey A. Moore

"The most important book for high-tech marketing. An absolute must read for entrepreneurs!"

Everyone loves high-tech. Maybe. Everyone loves innovation. Not really (see also The Myths of Innovation, Scott Berkun). The question is how to bring an innovative high-tech product into the mainstream market. Many high-tech products get to the innovation and early-adopter market, but fail to reach the mainstream market. The book indeed defines the step between the early adopters and the mainstream as the scary chasm a high-tech product has to cross to get to the success. Additionally, Moore explains that this chasm is extremely dangerous for companies because they have to face this challenging and costly phase after having the first successes with innovators and early adopters. This means getting back to skeptics since the early adopters supporting the product, also called visionaries, do not represent a good reference for the mainstream.

Model / Concepts
The Technology Adoption
  • Innovators – The technology enthusiasts love technology. They spend hours trying to get products to work and forgive ghastly documentation, slow performance, etc. They make great critics because they truly care, and thus represent an excellent reference.
  • Early Adopters – The visionaries match an emerging technology to a strategic opportunity. They are looking for a fundamental break through and they are willing to take risks to pursue their goals. They are the least price-sensitive profile and are willing to serve as highly visible reference.
  • Early Majority – These are the pragmatists. They want to make incremental, measurable, predictable progress. They are risk averse, are therefore hard to win over, but very loyal once won. They want to buy from proven market leaders and are reasonably price sensitive.
  • Late Majority – These are the conservatives, which are against discontinuous innovation since they believe in tradition, not progress. They like to buy complete packages, with everything bundled at heavily discounted price.
  • Laggards – Also called the skeptics, they only buy when they must.
The Invasion
Attack a niche market big, where you can become the leader, then use the leadership position to attack the next niche market.
The Whole Product
The whole product is composed of:
  • Generic product – what we ship in the box
  • Marketing promise – whatever else is needed to achieve the customer’s compelling reason to buy

This is clearly a must read book for the high-tech marketing of new products.
The impact is important, as it allows avoiding typical errors bringing to the failure of promising technological innovations. The solutions given in the book are simple yet powerful.
I had the chance to reading it just before we faced the chasm to get to mainstream, and this helped a lot to better focus on the real challenges and to be careful not underestimating the effort of this phase, which is indeed very demanding.
In my opinion, this is the most important book for high-tech marketing!
  • rating Amazon – 4.7/5.0 (95 reviews)
  • my rating – 5.0/5.0
  • fun factor – 4.0/5.0
  • simplicity – 4.5/5.0
  • impact – 5.0/5.0

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Myths of Innovation, Scott Berkun

"Great book! Finally a good insight in the innovation topic."

Everyone talks about innovation: From the new smartphone to the latest toilet paper, every brand uses the keyword "innovation" to promote any kind of new product. This is not necessarily wrong since the word "innovation" comes from the Latin "innovus" which means "into the new". Today, the word innovation is perceived as a "significant positive change", but, personally, I prefer to refer to an innovation in terms of "something labeled as being an innovation by a happy customer".

Model / Concepts
  1. The myth of epiphany. We love stories of flashes of insight and they dominate how creativity is reported. Epiphany stories project illusions of certainty since they’re always about successful ideas. When you hear a story about a flash of insight, the useful questions to ask are 1) how much time the creator spent working before the flash happened and 2) how much work they did after to make the idea successful.
  2. The myth that we know history. We romanticize the past to fit the present, creating traps for creatives who don’t know the true history of their own field. Inspiring lies are often more popular than complex truths. History is not a straight line of progress, which means the present isn’t either.
  3. The myth of a method. The challenge with creative work, especially in a marketplace, is the many factors beyond your control. You can do everything right and still fail. Methods can be useful but they deny that the present is different from the past. There are too many variables in the present to have certainty. The idea of an innovation portfolio, where a range of risk is assumed, is more honest.
  4. The myth we love new ideas. We are a conservative species: Conformity is deep in our biology. While talking about creativity is very popular, actually being creative puts your social status at risk. Much of what makes a successful innovator is their ability to persuade and convince conservative people of the merits of their ideas, a very different skill from creativity itself. The bigger the idea, the harder the persuasion challenge.
  5. The myth of the lone inventor. It’s easier to worship a hero if they are portrayed as superhuman. In reality, stories of mad geniuses who worked completely alone are rare. Pick any master who you think worked alone and read some of their history: you’ll be surprised how many people influenced their work. Learning to collaborate, and give and receive feedback, may matter more than your brilliance.
  6. The myth that good ideas are rare. If you watch any 6 year old child they will invent dozens of things in an hour. We are built for creativity. The problem is the conventions of adult life demand conformity and we sacrifice our creative instincts in favor of social status. Unlike a child, adults are supremely and instantly judgmental, killing ideas before they’ve had even a moment to prove their worth. Good ideas are everywhere: what’s uncommon is people with the conviction to put their reputation behind ideas.
  7. The myth your boss knows more than you. A fallacy of workplaces is that senior staff are better at everything than the people who work for them. This is false in many ways, but creative intuition might be the most false. To rise in power demands good political judgement, yet innovation requires a willingness to defy convention. Convention-defiers are harder to promote in most organizations, yet essential for progress.
  8. The myth the best idea wins. We lionize winners and history blames losers for their fate. Marketing, politics and timing have tremendous influence on why one idea or its competitors wins. Adoption cost plays also a key role in defining the winner. The world of ideas is not a pure meritocracy and you need to act accordingly.
  9. The myth that problems are less interesting than solutions. Einstein said “If I had 20 days to solve a problem I would take 19 to define it.” There are many creative ways to think about a problem, and different ways to look at a situation. If you listen to how successful creators talk about their daily work, they spend more time thinking about the problem than epiphany obsessed media would have us believe.
  10. The myth innovation is always good. What impact will an idea have 1,5,10,100 years from now? All innovation is change and all change helps some people and hurts others. Many horrible inventions were created with the best intentions. Any successful idea has a multitude of consequences that are impossible to predict and difficult to even measure.

If you are naïve about innovation as I was, this is a great book with high impact. The myths like "we love new ideas", "your boss knows more than you", and "the best ideas wins" are experiences I went through without noticing they were issues shared by many other people. If you are active in innovation (the real one, not just the use of the keyword), then you should really read it and you will have fun!

  • rating Amazon – 4.5/5.0 (118 reviews)
  • my rating – 4.5/5.0
  • fun factor - 4.5/5.0
  • simplicity - 5.0/5.0
  • impact - 4.0/5.0

Saturday, September 13, 2014

BrandSimple: How the Best Brands Keep it Simple and Succeed, Allen P. Adamson

"Excellent book about brands and branding"

BrandSimple is an excellent book about brands and the branding process. The book clearly defines the meaning of brand, branding, brand idea, brand strategy, and brand signals.
It is not the easiest book to read, but it remains very funny thanks to the concrete examples, which are presented all along the book.

Model / Concepts
The book presents in deep details the following concepts:
  1. Understand that brand (associations/feelings) and branding (process) are different concepts.
  2. Establish a differentiated meaning for your brand that the consumers you want to reach care about.
  3. Know exactly who you want to talk to.
  4. To find a different and relevant brand idea, look for the obvious.
  5. Make sure your brand idea aligns with your business strategy.
  6. Capture the essence of your brand idea in a brand driver-a simple statement of what your brand stands for.
  7. Draw a map of the customer's journey with your brand.
  8. Pick your battles: Invest in customer interactions with the greatest potential to drive consumer perception.
  9. Remember, only the paranoid survive and don’t lose the center.
  10. Remember that brand building is a marathon event.

The impact is important both for beginners as well as for experts. The presented concepts are simple to put in place and the given examples are inspiring.

  • rating Amazon – 4.7/5.0 (64 reviews)
  • my rating - 4.0/5.0
  • fun factor - 4.0/5.0
  • simplicity - 3.5/5.0
  • impact - 4.0/5.0

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Business Model Generation, Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur

"Brainstorming for business models"
“Business model” has always been an obscure thing for me. Of course, I knew that a business model is the “how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value”, but this remained quite obscure to me. The book of Osterwalder and Pigneur makes a great step in putting some light on the “business model” concept. This is firstly done by defining a canvas, which describes the components of a business model, then giving a set of interesting patterns (templates), which are complemented by very clear and interesting market examples.
Model / Concepts
The main model is the “business model canvas”:
  • Key Activities: The most important activities in executing a company's value proposition.
  • Key Resources: The resources necessary to create value for the customer.
  • Key Partners: Buyer-supplier relationships permitting focusing on their core activity.
  • Value Proposition: The collection of products and services a business offers to meet the needs of its customers. Characterized by newness, performance, customization, design, brand, price, status, risk reduction, convenience/usability.
  • Customer Segments: Mass, niche, segmented, diversified, multi-sided
  • Channels: Direct/ indirect. Phases: awareness, evaluation, purchase, delivery, after sales.
  • Customer Relationship: Personal, dedicated personal, self-service, automated services, communities.
  • Cost Structure: Cost-driven, value-driven, fixed-cost, variable costs, economy of scale/scope.
  • Revenue Streams: Asset sales, usage fee, subscription fee, lending/renting/leasing, licensing, brokerage fee, advertising. Fixed pricing vs. dynamic pricing.

This is the weak point: It’s not easy to generate a direct impact for a company. In my case, it has been very helpful to better structure the business plan and also to better communicate it, but then it’s over. Probably the impact is more important in larger companies, where there are a lot of people in charge of the business model.
  • rating Amazon - 4.5/5.0 (268 reviews)
  • my rating - 4.0/5.0
  • fun factor - 4.0/5.0
  • simplicity - 5.0/5.0
  • impact - 3.0/5.0

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Brand Gap, Marty Neumeier

"Excellent book about the power of branding."

The brand gap is an excellent book about the power of branding. It defines and presents what brand and branding is with simple yet powerful definitions and concepts.
The book points out that a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company. It is therefore not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is.
The brand gap is between strategies, marketing, and creative, between analytical, logical, linear, and intuitive, emotional, between concrete, numerical and spatial, visual.

Model / Concepts
The book presents the five disciplines of branding:
  1. Differentiate – Who are you? What do you do? Why does it matter?
  2. Collaborate – Outsource vs. internally with an integrated marketing team.
  3. Innovate – Passion is magic, not logic: Creativity, naming, icons/avatars instead of logos, packaging.
  4. Validate – Test distinctiveness, relevance, memorability, extendibility, depth.
  5. Cultivate – Every person in the company has to be involved in the branding process. No decision should be made without asking: “Will this help or hurt the brand?”

If you are a new comer in branding, this book is worth gold: The basic definitions of branding and the clear focus into the branding exercise are key factors to bring a company into the market.
If you are a branding expert, I think that the book still brings you valuable information, especially with the disciplines and the virtuous circle created by them.

  • rating Amazon – 4.5/5.0 (89 reviews)
  • my rating - 4.5/5.0
  • fun factor – 4.5/5.0
  • simplicity - 4.5/5.0
  • impact - 4.5/5.0

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Who Moved My Cheese, Spencer Johnson

"Very simplistic, but with some interesting basics about change."

It is well known that change is a source of stress, and it is also well known that nowadays change happens more and more often.
Mr. Johnson presents the cheese/mouse metaphor explaining how to deal with change.
The book is quite simplistic and concentrates on few basics about change, which can be helpful for young professionals.

Model / Concepts

Well, it's not really a model. The book correctly states that:
  1. Change happens.
  2. You have to watch for signs of change, and prepare for it.
  3. When change happens, don't try to resist, adapt to it quickly.
  4. Enjoy change as it is a source of opportunity.
Not so much.
To be honest, I was reading this book in the beginning of my management experience, and it helped me being more open-minded with respect to change. The two points I use to promote in my company are:
  1. When change happens, don't try to resist, adapt to it quickly.
  2. Remember that change is a source of opportunity.
  • rating Amazon - 3.3/5.0 (1'768 reviews)
  • my rating - 3.0/5.0
  • fun factor - 3.5/5.0
  • simplicity - 5.0/5.0
  • impact - 2.0/5.0

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, Patrick Lencioni

"Extremely well designed model for team building. My preferred team development book for its impact!"

This is a typical Lencioni-style book, where most of the text is dedicated to a so-called fable, which illustrates both the problem and the solution the author wants to address. If you like the style, then you'll have a lot of reward because it's really easy and quick to read, to understand and to apply.
In this work, the author proposes a model to foster team work quality in several steps starting from the foundations of team work up to full focus on result.

Model / Concepts
The goal is to face the typical dysfunctions of a team from the bottom to build up a strong, cohesive team working together towards the result.
  1. Absence of trust - This is the first dysfunction, where people tend to hide their weaknesses and mistakes. To address that, one has to build a culture, where being open and human is natural and seen as positive.
  2. Fear of conflict - Debate and constructive conflict are the base of successful and committed decisions. A team has therefore to fight against the fear of conflict, which creates unconstructive artificial harmony.
  3. Lack of commitment - After constructive conflict, it is important to enforce clarity and closure thus avoiding ambiguity. Clear decisions help getting to commitment.
  4. Avoidance of accountability - When trust, positive debate, and commitment are achieved, a leader has to support accountability, which helps keeping high standards.
  5. Inattention to result - Finally, the team can concentrate on result and avoid destructive status and ego issues.
Well, the impact is huge!
It's quite easy to explain and promote the concepts.
Trust, constructive conflict and commitment, are also easy to apply and have a clear impact in the way the team works. Of course, you have to address all the fears both on a team level and for every team member on a one-on-one level, but then you can have substantial improvements in short time.
Avoidance of accountability is the most challenging dysfunction to address. Only people that trust each other and that don't fear conflict will have the courage to make their subordinate, pair or even superior accountable. This is a never ending work that brings also important benefits, but with more effort.

  • rating Amazon - 4.4/5.0 (346 reviews)
  • my rating - 5.0/5.0
  • fun factor - 4.5/5.0
  • simplicity - 5.0/5.0
  • impact - 5.0/5.0