Thursday, April 13, 2006

Team Focus and the End of Innovation..

The other night I went to a gathering hosted by the Junto Benjamins. I had a few great points re-emphasized to me by a great speaker and conversations with a couple of great Utah entrepreneurs:

1) Bruce Jackson, a consultant and parallel entrepreneur, reminded us of the importance of a focused team with one clear mission. He illustrated his point by telling the story of a friend of his (we'll call him Bill) who worked at NASA during the 60's.

At the beginning of the decade, President Kennedy suggested that the United States " ... should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." Kennedy's adminition gave NASA one clear-cut mission: By 1969, a man on the moon. Period.

NASA management reinforced the goal to their team so well that even the janitors were on board. One night Bill was walking out of NASA headquarters when he noticed a janitor down the hall performing his usual clean-up tasks. He called out to the janitor, asking him what he was doing. The janitor replied, "Putting a man on the moon, sir!".

It was a great example of getting an entire organization to catch a single vision and tie every task to that vision. When I have a clear vision and measurable goals that I am somehow accountable for, I work like a champ. Without them, I comparatively suck. Maybe you and your company can relate ...

2) At the party I spoke with a couple of rockstar programmers from an equally rockstarish company about the end of innovation. The gist of our conversation was this: Sometimes you just have to quell your innate desire to innovate, and just focus 100% on selling. In other words, stop adding bells and whistles and just freakin' sell what you have!


Anonymous Brian Sweeting said...

On the second point, the best idea is to never think of a product as feature complete. You should decide what is the bare minimum set of features that will make your product viable, then ship it. Once it is out there, that's when the ongoing innovation begins.

It also makes it much easier to decide where to innovate, because real people will be using it, and providing feedback. It keeps you from having to dream up these pie-in-the-sky features that you just know your customers will love, only to find out that you missed the mark.

A product with a few excellent features is much better than a product with hundreds of so-so features. It's better for your bottom-line because you get to market faster, and your customers will appreciate that your product is continually getting better.

10:35 AM  

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