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Crossing the chasm

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This course will explain what a product vision is, its importance to a Product Owner, and how to create one.


Tony Cotgrave: The diffusion of innovation model is a marketing model. It's a very useful model or product owners to understand about how we introduce a product into a marketplace. So, even though it comes from marketing, it's one of the things that when we talk about product owners and professional product ownership, people always talk about visionaries and doers, Ken Schwaber mentions the product owner is the single wringable neck. But I think product owners are good marketeers as well. Let's separate first sales and marketing because people sometimes get confused between this thing, they would go sales and marketing. Sales people have a tendency to sell products that an organisation already has, whereas marketeers and marketing is very customer focused. It's about understanding customer's needs and customers wants as we go through. So, these marketing models are very useful for product owners to focus in. So just as an example, we start off on the diffusion of innovation model with innovators, okay. And what they identify is about approximately 2.5% of our market is made up of people who all seem to be innovators. So, if we take the example of the iPhone back in the day and some of audience will be too young to remember this, but when they first brought the iPhone out, people were camping, okay, they would camp out overnight to get the first iPhone. 

And the iPhone didn't do everything that all of the other mobile phones did. And people who didn't have iPhones would use this and would say, 'You can't copy your text and you can't forward a text on.' But if you spoke to those people, these innovators, these people who've got the iPhones to begin with, there was no way they would say anything bad about it. They were just as enthusiastic as Apple were the iPhone. They would say, 'Look at this, it's the most beautiful thing ever, it fits in my pocket, I carry all my music around and everything else.' You couldn't tell them anything bad about it because innovators are normally just as enthusiastic about you as your product. And this is key because if we get the innovators in board, they're enthusiastic, they will do a lot of the communication for us. And this is where the early adopters now come on board. Now early adopters aren't innovators, they're not, sort of, the risk takers in the same way as innovators are. They want to see a proof of concept. And we've got to watch out that our innovators aren't, sort of, these people that you see on social media now, these influencers where they're, sort of, being paid sometimes to, sort of, be enthusiastic about product. And what I quite like about that is there's a bit of confusion now around that level of enthusiasm. 

So, they now have to tell us where they're being paid. Because we want the true innovators to go out and be enthusiastic, the early adopters can see that and they make up about 13%, 14% of our market. And they will start to come on board when they will this proof of concept from these innovators, they go, 'Oh I'm excited about that.' They're normally excited about the technology or the process or whatever and they will come on board. To be able to get those people on board, those people will now bring in what we would class as the early majority. And again, the early majority will want to see something which is functioning. They will want to see something that is working, they will want to see what the benefits to them are. So, whether it be a process, whether it be a new piece of technology. What they'll do is they can see that there's this marketing place that people are using it, they can see the feedback, they can see communication and they will jump on board which is incredibly important. Because once we've got the early majority on board, the late majority will stay out. And they're sometimes referred to as the pragmatist herd, these people will actually stay out until it becomes a little bit daft. 

So, if we think about this with regard to, again, mobile phone technology, there are people who now have mobile phones, why? They hate the mobile phone, they never use their mobile phone, all they do is complain about these things. But everybody else has got one, so they feel as if they should have a mobile phone. So, this is where the late majority will come on board. They will actually stay out until it starts to feel a little bit daft to them. And then we have the laggards, okay. Now laggards are these people who they will stay out of the market and the only way sometimes to bring a laggard on is to actually force them, force them to use the thing. So, the diffusion of innovation model is a really interesting marketing model that product owners can use. And a guy called Geoffrey Moore wrote a book called Crossing the Chasm. If you get the opportunity, go and watch Moore on YouTube videos and stuff like that, he's such a good speaker. He's done lots of talks over the years around this, sort of, like, diffusion of innovation model and he's taken it into Crossing the Chasm and how we introduce technology products. 

And the Crossing the Chasm book and the model that he actually uses in there uses this diffusion of innovation because what Moore identifies is, we get the innovation on board but then he identifies these smalls chasms, there's these gaps, okay. So, product owners need to communicate to get the innovators on board but then to make sure that they're focusing their communication on jumping that gap, okay, getting over that gap to get the early adopters on board. Once we've now got the early adopters on board we have to watch out because we start to get this early market momentum where we see this increase, and a lot of product owners what they will do is they will stop their communication. They, sort of, go, 'Oh we're already getting that now,' so they go and focus on something else. But what Moore actually identifies is the big scary chasm in question, is the next one. So, what we need to do is we need to increase our communication, we need to take our compelling view of the future, state the vision, communicate those outcomes, make sure we're focusing on where the value and the benefits lie to these particular stakeholder groups. Really increase our communication to make sure that the early majority gets on board and that's where we start to get the growth. 

That's where we start to get this tornado effect, which then starts to bring in the other various different stakeholders and that's where we will get the late majority on board. And as I say, with regards to laggards, the interesting thing about laggards is the only way you can really get them on board is sometimes to switch off the thing that they were using. So, for example, if we were a bank and we wanted all of our customers to be mobile banking customers we close all of our branches down so that all of our customer base have to use mobile banking facilities. If it was a process that we're developing within an organisation, the only way that you might get those laggards on board is to say, as of this stage, the old way of working is now switched, the new way of working begins. And sometimes that's the only way you can get the laggards on board.

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