Pivots Are the Answer for Product Innovation

By Kate
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Marty Cagan has driven product innovations at eBay, AOL, Netscape, HP and others, and now works as Silicon Valley Product Group’s product management consultant.   Today he spoke at an internal Dassault Systèmes event, and I’d like to serve up a bit of what I learned. 

Have you ever heard of “pivots” in relation to computer software roadmaps?  Probably not, because they’re not roadmapable.  You never know when you’re going to encounter one or what it’s going to be.  Even so, you should consider making room for, accepting and incorporating pivots into your product development process.     

According to Marty, pivots are “little bits of change” that make for winning business concepts. I’ll give you three examples:

  1. Flickr started out as a multi-person game.  It was too difficult and people didn’t like it.  But they DID like the image-sharing part.  The team noticed this and expanded the concept into “Share your photos. Watch the world.”   
  2. PayPal began as a concept to exchange money via Palm Pilots, but it just didn’t take.  What people liked was the concept to send money online, thus today “The world’s most-loved way to pay and get paid.”  
  3. YouTube started out as a video dating site concept.  You make a video of yourself, saying why people should date you, and then you share it with the world and hope someone will actually want to.  People didn’t feel comfortable exposing themselves this way, but they loved the idea of sharing other types of videos online.  Thus, “the largest worldwide video-sharing community.”

“Be open to pivots!”  said Marty.  But how? 

The tip is in Steve Blank’s refrain, which goes something like, “No facts exist inside the building; only opinions.”  (building =s company)  Going further, Marty pointed out that “the bigger your company, the truer this is.”  You’ve got to “distinguish vision from illusion.”

Product managers should be obsessed with validating their ideas with real users.  And Marty considers person-to-person interactions necessary at a minimum of three per week.  Every week.  Like for Flickr, PayPal and YouTube, this is where the pivots begin.  More about pivots here

Is your company open to pivots?  What organization and processes do you have in place to facilitate this? 



Leadership News from SolidWorks

By Kate
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Hi everyone,

Perhaps you’ve heard that Jeff Ray is moving to a role within Dassault Systèmes, and Bertrand Sicot will replace him as SolidWorks CEO.  Congratulations Jeff and Bertrand!

If you’d like to learn more about these changes, you may enjoy reading the following posts on The SolidWorks Blog:

1.  An update on the organizational changes at SolidWorks

“In my new role as Executive Vice President, Geographic Operations, I’ll be working with Dassault Systèmes country managers around the world to help improve the customer experience. This isn’t just a new role for me, but also for Dassault Systèmes, created to help streamline the customer experience, to address local customer needs, and to improve technology overall.” — Jeff Ray

2.  From Bertrand Sicot: a new chapter at SolidWorks

“Over the last thirteen years, I have worked with hundreds of SolidWorks customers, resellers and partners. I understand the challenges our customers face every day, and my plan is to continue to run Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks the way we always have–by doing what we believe is best for our customers and community.” — Bertrand Sicot

3.  A conversation with Jeff Ray and Bertrand Sicot This is an interview conducted by Matthew West . . .



General Cloud Computing Acceptance Not So Clear

By Kate
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The other night my father-in-law announced he’d ordered a new laptop computer.  Only after 3 years, his broke.  What followed was a conversation I suspect may sound familiar to you: 

“You know Michel, in the future you won’t need to buy a new computer—just a new screen.  The Cloud will be your computer.” 

“Pfff!  I hope not!  I would never trust my data to the Cloud.”

“Um, Michel, you trust your money to a bank, right?”

“Yes, but that’s because I have to.”

“You’re already using the Cloud for some things, whether you’re aware or not.”

“Perhaps, but I have several external hard drives and I use them to back up my data every few weeks.”

“Michel, is your data so much more precious than your money that you’d prefer to keep it ‘under your mattress?’”

Perhaps I’m surrounded by too much Cloud talk at work.  I figured the General Public would be fairly accepting of the direction the Cloud is taking.  But my father-in-law is an engineer and ex technical director of a pretty technical company, so I wasn’t expecting his reaction. 

Do we care? 

I find it curious that public acceptance does not correlate with the rate of progress for things Cloud-related, i.e. Saleforce’s database.com announcement, legislative advancements around country-specific owned/controlled Clouds, etc.

If Human 1.0 theories hold true, I’d suspect this is because the hunters and gathers in us like to feel that we tangibly own and control stuff.  But have no fear; I’m sure we’ll find a creative way to feel psychologically and emotionally good about our data dominion.  And if we can’t?  Well then we’ll displace our control needs to another domain. 

What’s your take?  And what do your in-laws think about this Cloud business?  

Happy New Year to you! 



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