Training wheels don’t work
If you have a young child who will learn to ride a bike sometime soon, you probably have recollections of the bike that you learnt on, and the awkwardness of bikes with stabilisers (also known as: training wheels). Recently, I came across this article about training wheels and balance bikes and it reminded me of the very different experience with my youngest son.
Balance bikes are much better
Balance bikes are great, as this video (not of my child) shows!
In my experience, they are obviously a better way to learn to ride a bike and it’s very surprising that anyone buys bikes with stabilisers (training wheels) any more. On a more professional note, this is also one of the best examples that I have encountered of innovation applied to learning by choosing different disclosure sequences, but that is a much bigger story.
How often does the response reveal more than the stimulus?
There was an interesting observation in one of the comments on Robert Scoble’s recent post about Google and its difficulties with innovation. But there was an even more interesting remark in his response to the comment.
In my earlier post, I described some general observations, raised by that post about Google, about the management of innovation. But this post is specific to a technique.
In his reply, Robert refers to the observation in the comment (by webwright) as a “good trick”. What was it that was a “trick”? It was that at Amazon, according to the commenter, the development of a product begins with the writing of a press release.
Surely, this is far more important than a “good trick”!
By writing a press release, are they not capturing their vision of the product by implementing what they see as the last stage of the product development: the announcement of the product to the public?
In writing that press release, they are capturing their desired outcome for this, as yet non-existent, product. This requires knowledge to be gathered and decisions to be made about:
- the audience for the product
- the perspective from which that audience views the product
- the aspects that are relevant from that perspective
- the characteristics of those aspects that are valued
- the attributes which contribute to those characteristics
- and the target levels for those attributes.
Without the press release as a specification of the outcome, the product vision might take different forms in the minds of different people, it might slip and slide around over time as some ideas become favoured over others, or as difficulties arise during development.
With this specification, written from the perspective of the customer, the vision is set. This shifts the questions of product management and product from “what we can do for them?” to “how can we do that?”! This is a very important shift.
There is a name for this, it is called “pull”.