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29
Jan 2014
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Crossing the Chasm: What's New, What's Not? Part 2

Crossing the Chasm: What's New, What's Not? Part 2

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn InfluencersFollow Geoffrey Moore on LinkedIn.

In the blog prior to this one, I outlined seven things I thought were not only new but in a way that impacts the application of the crossing the chasm market development model. In this blog, I want to provide a counterbalance to that and present seven things I believe have not changed.

January 28 is the publication date for the third edition of Crossing the Chasm. As with the second edition, I have worked hard to preserve the original argument largely intact. The big change is all new case examples referencing companies who crossed the chasm sometime in the past ten years. This should make the book a bit more acessible to the current generation of entrepreneurs and perhaps a fun reread for those looking for a refresh.

Of course, this all begs the question, is the book really still relevant? Business books, after all, are not exactly known for their longevity, and Lord knows the tech sector has changed dramatically in this past decade. At the end of the day, of course, this s not for me to say--but tat has rarely stopped me in the past.

What's not new?

1. The Technology Adoption Life Cycle. Communities of all sizes in all geographies in all industries, indeed all contexts, still self-segregate into five adoption strategies when confronted by a disruptive innovation. And those five strategies are still:

  • The Technology Enthusiasts (who love the innovation for what is in itself),
  • The Visionaries (who love it for how it can deliver dramatic competitive advantage to a fist mover),
  • The Pragmatists (who have approach / avoidance conflict, wanting the benefits, leery of the risks),
  • The Conservatives (who are suspicious of the benefits and certain risks), and
  • The Skeptics (who believe the disruptive innovation is most likely an instrument of the Devil).

2. The Whole Product. The whole product is the complete set of products and services needed to fulfill the customer's reason to buy. How they respond to this issue is what separates each of the five strategies. Technology enthusiasts are content to just play with the product itself. Visionaries will fund projects to build out a whole product before anyone else is ready to. Pragmatists need to see a whole product in production before they are comfortable to jump in, and they will check references assiduously to see if it is really there. Conservatives need a bulletproof whole product, and even then they are sure they are going to break something. Skeptics think the whole product will never come into existence.

3. Business Ecosystems. If anything, these are more pronounced i the present era, where global outsourcing requires vendors to orchestrate a supply chain and a delivery and support chain end to end. Even when the customer o  consumer perceives little to no risk, the business partner does, if for no other reason than the opportunity cost of committing to an innovation that never gets to critical mass. In other words, there is the challenge of customer adoption, and the parallel challenge of ecosystem enlistment, and until both chasms are crossed, you do not have a going concern.

4. Word-of-Mouth References. Pragmatists are the ones who make or break any market development strategy, if for no other reason than hey move as a herd and thereby create bloc voting effect. And pragmatists make their buying decisions based on what they see other pragmatists just like them doing. So word-of-mouth has always been the number one influence on making risk-bearing purchase decisions, and always will be.

5. The Chasm. Pragmatists will forever hold back until they see others like them jump in, and visionaries will always go ahead of the heard in search of first-mover advantage, and this will always create chasms. (It is good to be in a business that promises lifetime employment.)

6. Pragmatists in Pain. In order to get the pragmatist community activated, a subset of pragmatists have to go ahead of the herd. These will be pragmatists in pain. They will be saddled with an ever-worsening problem that cannot be solved by their established systems. In short, under current course and speed, they are toast. Once they become aware they have nothing to lose, they become candidates for adopting the new technology--but only if it comes in the context of a complete solution to their increasingly pressing problem.

7. Beachhead Strategy. To serve pragmatists in pain, you need to pre-wrap a complete solution, including the efforts of partners and allies. This can only happen with a great degree of focus, and even then it requires a market-making narrative that is compelling enough to win over the other participants in your solution. This is an uncommon situation and is normally specific to a particular type of process in a particular industry. Focusing intensely on that process and that industry is still the fastest, surest, safest way to cross the chasm.

That' what I think. What do you think?

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn InfluencersFollow Geoffrey Moore on LinkedIn.

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Chasm Institute LLC helps high-tech teams learn, apply, and implement best practices in market development strategy. These best practices are based on Geoffrey Moore's best-selling books Crossing the Chasm, Inside the Tornado, Living on the Fault Line, Dealing with Darwin, and Escape Velocity plus hundreds of client engagements with high-tech companies. 

Chasm Institute helps companies align their product development, marketing, and sales functions to achieve and maintain market leadership in their categories.

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