Book Review: Crossing the Chasm
I don’t remember how Crossing the Chasm got onto my reading list (maybe the Fog Creek Software Management Training Program Reading List?) but I finally got around to reading it over the last couple weeks. One sentence review: It’s a great book for developers and product managers working at small software shops / start ups that want to to take their business to the next level. And now for a bunch of poignant excerpts…
The book hinges on the idea that a giant chasm exists in between the early adapters and the early majority (hence the title), as evidenced by this bell curve:
For posterity’s sake, the author defines the early adopter as someone who wants to buy a change agent, something that will
“… get [them] a jump on the competition, whether from lower product costs, faster time to market, more complete customer service, or some other comparable business advantage.”
In comparison, the early majority
“… want to buy a productivity improvement for existing operations. They are looking to minimize the discontinuity with the old ways. They want evolution, not revolution. They want technology to enhance, not overthrow, the established ways of doing business.”
What is marketing?
… taking actions to create, grow, maintain, or defend markets… Marketing’s purpose, therefore, is to develop and shape something that is real, and not, as people sometimes want to believe, to create illusions. In other words, we are dealing with a discipline more akin to gardening or sculpting than, say, to spray painting or hypnotism… a market is
- a set of actual or potential customers
- for a given set of products or services
- who have a common set of needs or wants, and
- who reference each other when making a buying decision
You need to read the book to understand why the following excerpt is important, but I think this paragraph sums up a lot of what the book is about:
Companies just starting out, as well as any marketing program operating with scarce resources must operate in a tightly bound market to be competitive. Otherwise, their “hot” marketing messages get diffused too early, the chain reaction of word-of-mouth communication dies out, and the sales force is back to selling “cold.” This is classic chasm symptom, as the enterprise leaves behind the niche represented by the early market. It is usually interpreted as a letdown in the sales force or a cooling off in the demand when, in fact, it is simply the consequence of trying to expand into too loosely bound a market. The D-Day strategy prevents this mistake. It has the ability to galvanize an entire enterprise by focusing it on a highly specific goal that is 1) readily achievable and 2) capable of being directly leveraged into a long term success. Most companies fail to cross the chasm because, confronted with the immensity of the opportunity represented by a mainstream market, they lose their focus, chasing every opportunity that presents itself, but finding themselves unable to deliver a salable proposition to any true pragmatist buyer. The D-Day strategy keeps everyone on point — if we’d don’t take Normandy, we don’t have to worry about how we’re going to take Paris. And by focusing our entire might on such a small territory, we greatly increase our odds of immediate success.
On product-centric / pre-chasm companies compared to market-centric / post-chasm companies:
… we must shift our marketing focus from celebrating product-centric value attributes to market-centric ones. Here is a representative list of each:
- Fastest product
- Easiest to use
- Elegant Architecture
- Product Price
- Unique Functionality
- Largest installed base
- Most third party supporters
- De facto standard
- Cost of ownership
- Quality of support
I’m leaving out a number of other excerpts that I dog eared because it’s late but the excerpts probably won’t do you any good any way, read it and then these might jog your memory.
- BCOM 522: Corporate Blogs: Sun Microsystems Corporate Blogs Case Study
Quote: “… it was about meeting customer needs more quickly by enabling developers to not only speak directly to customers and show that Sun cares about their concerns, but also to exchange knowledge and develop better software. The blogs also give Sun e
(categories: via:snoopdave blogging blogs corporate sun )
- fnokd! — Blog Archive — JBoss.ORG: Blogging & RSS
Quote: “I think personal blogging, even on corporate topics, tends to be more real and honest.” Also some good stuff about using RSS / Atom in a community.
(categories: via:snoopdave blogging blogs corporate jboss syndication rss atom )
- Daring Fireball Linked List: March 2007
Quote: “The way I see it, Twitter is to IM and SMS what weblogs were to email and Usenet.”
(categories: twitter im sms messaging )
- Optimising TortoiseSVN — Programming Blog
Good stuff if you’re using TortoiseSVN.
(categories: tortoisesvn svn subversion optimization windows )
- 1907 Map of Buzzards Bay, MA
The house I still own wasn’t built for another 70 or so years. At one point in time (IIRC), New Bedford was actually bigger than Boston.
(categories: buzzardsbay ma maps mapping 1907 )
I wrote a long winded post a couple months ago with a nebulous title called “IM and RSS: Rome is on Fire” where I talked about the feed bot that I wrote for Wildfire (which is now called Openfire). It’s been up and running now for a couple months, giving me a chance to work out some of the bugs and add a couple features and I think it’s ready for you to look at and use. The project page has all the details.
- NewsGator – News Archive
Quote: “Continuous access to real-time data through RSS gives companies a competitive edge in business intelligence, providing them with the information they need to react quickly to business and market changes.”
(categories: rss feeds syndication realtime speed information instantmessaging )
- O’Reilly Radar > Honoring the Skunk Works
More thoughts on Skunk Works management style.
(categories: skunkworks management oreilly business )
- Kelly Johnson’s 14 rules for Skunk Works
Found via radar.oreilly.com, some good ideas to think about when you’re developing a product.
(categories: engineering innovation management lockheed skunkworks via:radar.oreilly.com )
- Google Analytics: The goggles, they do nothing! | Archives | codablog | Coda Hale
Great rant on pie chart and 3D graphs. Quote: “… if it’s a simple dataset, boil it down to the essentials. If there are two numbers which add up to 100%, you don’t need to tell me both, and you certainly don’t need to draw me a picture of it.”
(categories: infoviz information graphing graph visualization google charting chart data analytics )
- Petroglyphs — Blog Archive — WordPress extendedPing bug?
The weblogs.com XMLRPC ping API requires 4 parameters for the webogUpdates.extendedPing method. WordPress sends three (see wp-includes/comments.php). Just sayin’.
(categories: wordpress extendedPing comment.php weblogs.com api xmlrpc )
- Official Google Research Blog: Seattle conference on scalability
Sounds cool. Saturday, June 23rd…
(categories: scalability performance research seattle conferences google )
- Planet Mozilla Blog — Planet Mozilla Plan and Policy proposals
Quote: “1. Blogging has a very positive impact in development, and is very well regarded by all readers, and participants. 2. People get a much better understanding for the ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘when not behind the computer’ in developers lives. 3. Pe
(categories: blogging roi mozilla planet blogs )