Innovation Myths As Explained by Geoffrey Moore

Geoffrey Moore (managing director of TCG Advisors, venture partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures and best-selling author of Crossing the Chasm and Inside the Tornado) wrote this opinion piece on Innovation for Sandhill.com. In the article, Geoffrey identifies and shoots down 10 myths surrounding innovation.
Here is a summary of the myths and Geoffrey’s explanations:
#10. We don’t innovate around here any more. Baloney. Your people are innovating all the time. The problem is, your innovations are no longer differentiating your company. Your innovations, in other words, parallel your competitors’ innovations, with the result that you all look more or less alike. Customers, seeing little to no difference, put more and more emphasis on price. Unable to distinguish your offer, you have no bargaining power, and most capitulate to their pressure.
#9. Product life cycles are getting shorter and shorter. And whose fault is that? If you do not differentiate in hard-to-copy ways, you cannot expect what differentiation you do create to be long-lived. Sustainable differentiation requires barriers to entry and barriers to exit.
#8. We need a Chief Innovation Officer. Like a hole in the head. Think about what your true goal is: you want innovation that creates differentiation that leads to customer preference during buying decisions. That sounds about as close to a core business strategy as you can get. It has to be grounded in the realities of operational capabilities, customer feedback, competitor investments, and capital constraints. So your chief innovation officer by default must be your P&L owner. If that person isn’t stepping up to the innovation task, replace them with someone who will.
#7. We need to be more like Google. Not on your life. Google is a once-in-a-decade phenomenon, a company riding a wave of adoption so powerful that not only is the first derivative of its growth curve positive, but so is the second derivative. If that describes your market, we doubt you are worrying about innovation.
#6. R&D investment is a good indicator of innovation commitment. No, it is not. R&D represents the engineering department’s lead, and in general pays off well in double-digit growth markets and increasingly poorly in single-digit growth markets. Continuing major investments in R&D in slow-growth markets is a good measure of lack of innovative thinking.
#5. Great innovators are usually egotistical mavericks. Not any more. In the current decade there is more competitive differentiation to be gained through collaboration than through busting out on your own. That’s because our extended supply chains reward each company for focusing on its core and outsourcing the rest of the offer to someone else in the chain. But actually orchestrating these chains to perform effectively in real time requires enormous innovation.
#4. innovation is inherently disruptive. Not necessarily. To be sure, authors like Clay Christensen and myself have spent much of our life’s work chronicling the impact of disruptive innovation, but it is only one type among many.  Alternatives include application innovation, product innovation, platform innovation, line extension innovation, design innovation, marketing innovation, experiential innovation, value engineering innovation, integration innovation, process innovation, value migration innovation, and acquisition innovation
#3. It is good to innovate. No, it is good to differentiate on an attribute that drives customer preference during buying decisions. Innovating elsewhere costs money and entails risk but does not create competitive advantage.
#2. Innovation is hard. Actually, it is not. What is hard is deploying innovation, especially in an established enterprise. That’s because the critical deployment resources are all engaged trying to make the quarter on the back of the existing offer set in the existing market categories.
#1. When innovation dies, it’s because the antibodies kill it. Yes, but not how you think. The murder takes place in the customer’s world, not in yours. Here’s how. As a management team you hope to leverage the current relationships managed by your sales force to introduce the next-generation innovation. But the synergies implied by this tactic are revealed over time to be false – the current team does not have any relationships of merit with the new target customer. Instead it has legacy commitments to the old target customer who in turn is threatened by and resents the intrusion of the new innovation. Thus your own sales force finds itself more or less honor-bound to sabotage your next-generation effort. Whether they actually do or not, they are in no position to lead the kind of charge required, and it is no wonder when some piddly little start-up beats your finely tuned sales machine to the punch.
Geoffrey A. Moore’s new book is Dealing with Darwin: How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of Their Evolution. Moore is managing director of TCG Advisors, venture partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures and best-selling author of Crossing the Chasm and Inside the Tornado.
The complete opinion piece is available at http://sandhill.com/opinion/editorial.php?id=66&page=1.
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Requirements Document Alphabet Soup – Explained

Michael Shrivathsan explains the meanings of the six key acronyms that relate to requirements documents in this blog entry. The terms and his summary definitions are:
  1. BRD – A Business Requirements Document (BRD) focuses on defining the business needs of a project. The BRD identifies one or more business problems faced by customers that can be solved by the company’s product. It then proposes a solution – usually a new product or enhancement to an existing product to address these problems.
  2. MRD – Market Requirements Document (MRD) focuses on defining the market requirements for a proposed new product or enhancement to an existing product.
  3. PRD – A Product Requirements Document (PRD) focuses on defining the product requirements for a proposed new product or enhancement to an existing product. Whereas the MRD focuses on requirements from the perspective of market needs, PRD focuses on requirements from the perspective of the product itself. It usually delves into more details on features and functional requirements, and may also include screen shots and user interface flows.
  4. FSD – A Functional Specifications Document (FSD) defines the complete details of a product’s functional requirements with a focus on implementation. FSD may define the product specifications screen by screen and feature by feature. This is a document that can be directly used by engineers to create the product.
  5. PSD – Product Specifications Document (PSD) is a less popular acronym, but in organizations that have such a document, it is by and large the same as the Functional Specifications Document (FSD) described above.
  6. SRS – A Software Requirements Specification (SRS) is another less popular acronym. In organizations that create an SRS, it has contents and details somewhere close to what is described above for PRD or FSD.
Read the rest of Michael’s post at the following link:
Requirements Document Alphabet Soup – Explained by Michael Shrivathsan

Kick-Butt Design (vs. Butt-Ugly Design)

Michael Shrivathsan who blogs at “Michael on Product Management and Marketing came up with five tips to help Product Managers and Product Marketers create products with “Kick-Butt” design.

The five tips are summarized as :
  1. Start With the User Interface – Right after gathering and prioritizing high-level requirements, get to the User Interface (UI) design. Do this before you complete your marketing requirements (MRD) and product requirements (PRD) documents.
  2. Work Closely With UI Designers – If UI is so important, it follows naturally that Product Managers should work very closely with UI Designers to achieve kick-butt design.
  3. Pay Attention to Details – There is no such thing as “low priority cosmetic flaw”. Cosmetic flaws are high priority. Very high priority. Often, they are easy to fix to boot.
  4. Simpler is Better – Keep your product, and its design simple – as simple as possible.Design for the 80% use case. Do not fall prey to “Featuritis” – more features are not always better.
  5. Be Brave – Because most folks in your organization would want to water down the design to make it more like competitors’. A superset of features seen in competitive products. Be brave – just say “No”.
Michael goes on to say “I fully understand that none of these five tips are easy to practice. Heck – if they were easy, everybody will be designing kick-butt products!”
Michael’s tips are ones that are very applicable to our community as great design knows no borders. The sad thing is that in many organizations, business analysts and product managers are segregated or isolated from UI and UX designers. In fact, the silos are sometimes so tall at some companies that these two constituencies never talk.
This discussion also reminds me of my days at Oracle (pre-Peoplesoft/Siebel acquisitions) where development relegated user interface to a relatively low priority. Some of the user interfaces were so bad that many people joked that Oracle created a new design acronym called the BUI or butt-ugly-interface.
Read the rest of Michael’s post at the following link:
Five Tips for Creating Products With Kick-Butt Design by Michael Shrivathsan

http://michael.hightechproductmanagement.com/2006/11/five_tips_for_creating_product.html

Creating the Adaptive Interface

Stephen Anderson from Sabre presented on the topic of Adaptive Interfaces at the IA Summit 2007.  Adaptive Interfaces are interfaces that learn from user actions or reveal additional functionality as a user gains experience.

Here is the introduction from Stephen’s blog entry on Adaptive Interfaces and the complete blog entry.

“With the proliferation of rich Internet applications and interactions more closely aligned with how people think, we face some interesting challenges:

  • Do we design for one common audience and common tasks, or tailor applications around specific audiences and their unique activities?
  • How do we resolve the tension between creating simple applications that ‘do less’ and the demand for new features that some people really do need?
  • As we move beyond usability to create desirable interfaces, how do we handle a subjective domain like emotions?

These types of challenges could all be addressed by creating a truly ‘adaptive’ interface. More than removing unused menu options or collaborative filtering, this would include functionality that is revealed over time as well as interface elements that change based on usage. Imagine the web-based email client that begins offering three forms fields for attachments instead of the default one, because it ‘noticed’ that you frequently upload more than one file. Or the navigation menu that disappears because it is not relevant to the task at hand. Sound scary? Look at the world of game design, where inconsistency has never been an issue and where users learn new functions over time, as needed. In the same ways that ads are becoming more targeted around context and behavior, we can also create interfaces that respond, suggest, or change based on actual usage data.”

The IA Summit presentation is also posted here.