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I read somewhere, that I should make notes of what I read and review them from time to time. I decided to give it a try, since I read a lot and I think making such notes will be for me a way of remembering best ideas, quotes, or whatever from my books and magazines. I also decided to share those notes with you, in edited form as some have gotten pretty long. In many cases I copied whole passages without noting the page numbers, which is against good reference practices, but of course I will list title and author of a book (or article) where I got the notes from.

I do that with hope that at least some of you will reach for mentioned magazine or book when you will find my notes interesting. Ach, one more thing: small number of notes do not mean that the book or magazine was not good…

Here is what I noted from the book “Anticipate: The Architecture of Small Team Innovation and Product Success” by Ronald Brown:

[…] The process of turning an idea into a tangible product is innovation. Innovation is a deliberate and structured form of development that is part strategy and part implementation. Product development […] is not an idea business, it’s an innovation business.

[…] Not focusing on the details of implementation is the main reason products fail in the marketplace.

[…] The biggest contributor to poor implementation is lack of appropriate knowledge.

I noted above sentence because there are developers I know which are convinced that you don’t need experience in domain to develop fully a good product. I disagree and I am happy to see that I am not the only one.

[…] What does all this knowledge tell us? There are three fundamental lessons:

  1. Innovation is the main determinant of success […]
  2. To promote innovation in a meaningful way, small teams must be the focal point of your strategy […] dismaying number of companies don’t give their teams the freedom or resources they need to be truly effective. Hierarchies, bureaucracies, and old habits have a way of smothering the best intentions.
  3. Leading firms are pursuing a more organic form of development, which means they are trying to optimize the natural decision-making style and positioning of small groups on the edges of the organization. Additionally, they are finding new, more natural ways of bringing marketplace feedback into the development equation. These two elements – process and feedback – fuel innovation at the team level and form the essence of what we call organic product development.

Point 2 – I sign under it with both my arms and legs and whatever else I have 🙂

[…] No matter how much world around us changes, basic customer emotions and motivations determine buyer behaviour. Humans are genetically programmed to operate a certain way, and nothing will change that. When companies violate or ignore those principles, disaster is usually close at hand.

[…] Scrum attempts to address the unpredictable nature of new product development by going to the source: customer input is incorporated on a regular basis, as development progresses.

[…] Circular development is a tool for processing ongoing input efficiently and quickly, and that helps avoid the kinds of problems that lead to heavy end-of-project rework and long-delayed launch dates. Ongoing market validation helps maintain tight alignment between customers and products, and that helps ensure that products meet expectations when they’re introduced.

[…] The goal of any product team is not just to meet expectations (or rely entirely on what customers tell you), but to create meaningful differentiation and competitive advantage.

[…] almost half of all development work was being repeated, a high proportion of which was caused by firefighting or unplanned activities.

[…] We all want innovation, but we aren’t very good at getting it. Why? In large part, it’s because we concentrate so heavily on ideas.

[…] Ideas are extremely important, but when it comes to innovation, they are only the beginning of the story, not the end.

[…] We simply don’t put enough emphasis on turning ideas into products that add value.

[…] Innovation is about “selecting and executing the right ideas and bringing them to market in record time”.

[…] The structure of innovation is made of not just one component, but three: the idea, the strategic direction in which the idea should be taken, and the execution of that strategic direction. In our terminology, strategic direction and execution together make up implementation.

[…] Development is about expressing an idea properly, while manufacturing is about replicating and scaling. One is creative and unpredictable, and the other tends to be mechanical and very predictable.

[…] Too many choices – too much product proliferation – was leading to customer inaction. Even worse, the very presence of proliferation signalled a lack of customer understanding. Simplification of product lines, on the other hand, reduced costs and accelerated customer decisions.

[…] If you want to mitigate the risk associated with new product development, simplification, all by itself, is the first of three universal strategies to pursue.

[…] focusing on core behaviours is the second.

[…] concentrating heavily on market and team risk is the third.

Market risk: are there enough customers who will buy your product? Do you have your product placed where they can find it? Team risk: Does your team have the skills and experience to get its product to market? Can they do it fast enough before they run out of money?

[…] Product differentiation refers to those attributes that make your product unique compared to competitors’ product. It is a marketing variable that is fully within your control – you decide what goes into your product from feature standpoint, and you decide which features to place emphasis on when you create selling messages.

[…] Product positioning relates to how customers receive your story and size it up for themselves. If differentiation is a statement of uniqueness sent on behalf of a company’s product, positioning is a statement of relevance in which customers put your product into the context of their own lives. You can try and control how customers perceive your product by the nature of the messages you send, but customers make final decision. The value proposition is a summary of all the benefits a customer can receive if they buy and use your product.

[…] Stories are the currency of human communications, not individual messages.

[…] Just by having a big idea and a strong value proposition, you can cut your market risk by half (remember, market risk is just one part of total risk).

[…] Tacit knowledge has two dimensions. Domain experience, the deep know-how related to one area of expertise, and broad experience, the kind that transcends any one subject area.

[…] What is customer immersion? Anything and everything that allows you to walk in your customers’ shoes.

[…] Over time, if done seriously and consistently, customer immersion will lead to the most valuable skill in all of marketing (and, in fact, all of business): You will start thinking like your customers, independent of any one product.

Note to myself: check Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, Clifton Strengths Finder, Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, and Values in Action. I need to check those out.

[…] There are four documents that can play major roles in a larger strategic architecture: the business model, the marketing requirements document (MRD), the product requirements document (PRD), and the creative brief.

[…] The purpose of the MRD is to define a product based on market need.

[…] Business models provide development teams with a strategic framework, while offering plenty of room for problem solving and iteration along the way.

[…] Once the business model has gone through a few iterations and started to solidify, you can start capturing all the detail you need in either a PRD for engineers or a creative brief for marketers.

[…] Leading companies are pushing product decision-making to the edges of the organization as much as possible.

[…] One of the biggest obstacles in building a winning team is gaining, and then holding onto, senior management commitment.

[…] The agent that bonds team members together is not friendships, but commitment to a shared vision.

[…] Problem, fact gathering, examination, and conclusion – this is the basic architecture for solving any business problem.

Above may look like a collection of slogans, but in reality, when you had somehting to do with product development, it is not. It becomes a short list of things to pay attention to. Very smart book.