Innovation: Next steps

This is the last article of a series on innovation. Here’s the list of my previous articles on the topic in case you missed or want to reread:

Now that you read or reread my previous articles on innovation, let’s move to the last article of the series.

Innovation: Next steps

Once you discovered a problem of a group of people, got to the bottom of it, of its context and the motivations that people have to solve this problem, you analyze the opportunity in details. You evaluate if it is worth to develop the software product. You evaluate how to cover the costs of the development and the operation. And then you go for it.

There’s an enormous amount of books that talk about the subject and, if I would approach the subject in this book, it would probably double its size. That’s why I prefer recommending some book references that I find interesting on this matter. Moreover, software product development has been a much explored topic in several articles, talks and books about startups. In a way, startup and software product development can be considered synonyms. 

And here is the list:

  • To the point: a recipe for creating lean products, by Paulo Caroli, in which he shares a sequence of quick activities to understand and plan the creation of lean products, based on the concept of minimum viable product.
  • Getting real: the smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application, by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson and Matthew Linderman. This book tells how the guys from 37signals built their successful products. It holds lots of practical tips.
  • The entrepreneur’s guide to customer development: a cheat sheet to The Four Steps to the Epiphany, by Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits. Steve Blank, a serial entrepreneur from Silicon Valley wrote a book called The Four Steps to the Epiphany: successful strategies for products that win, that approaches generically the startup subject but creates a very important concept, of customer development. According to his experience, startups donít die from the difficulty of making a good product, but from the difficulty in finding clients for it. Hence the idea of search and develop the client before search and develop the product. The problem is that Steve Blankís book is very dense, so Brant and Patrick made an excellent summary of 104 pages in which they explain in details the concept of customer development.
  • Where good ideas come from: the natural history of innovation, by Steven Johnson, author of several interesting books about science and knowledge. In this book, he explains what are the main ingredients of innovation, especially the need of multi-disciplinary teams in order to make possible to see the same problem from different perspectives. 
  • The little black book of innovation: how it works, how to do it, by Scott D. Anthony, business partner of professor Clayton Christensen in an innovation consulting company called Innosight. In this book, he defines innovation as something different that has an impact. From this point on, he presents a step-by-step guide to find and test innovation opportunities. 
  • Crossing the chasm: marketing and selling high-tech products to mainstream customers. Written in 1991 by Geoffrey Moore, who wrote the book in which he explains that between the *early adopters* and the *early majority* there is an abyss that many products are not able to cross, since the latter ones need good references to buy a new product and the first ones usually are not a good reference. In this book, Moore also proposes strategies based in war tactics.
  • Running lean: iterate from Plan A to a plan that works, by Ash Maurya. In 2010, Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur presented a new framework to analyze business models, the Business Model Canvas (BMC). I really appreciate this framework, but the BMC seems to me more focused on settled companies rather than startups. In 2012, Ash Maurya created a framework based on Business Model Canvas, but more relevant to new businesses for it approaches problem, solution and metrics. 
  • The lean startup: how today’s entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses, by Eric Ries, a close friend of Steve Blank. This book resulted from the Startup Lessons Learned blog, that he wrote and is still writing about his experiences with his startup. It is also focused on general startups, not only the ones on software product. It even approaches a non-governmental organization, well-known concepts such as MVP (Minimal Viable Product) and the feedback cycle Build-Measure-Learn.

Good reading, good product development and brace yourself for the next stage: growth (or the abyss!), our next subject.

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