Archive for July, 2006

The Change Function, a New Book by Pip Coburn

Well, I realize that I have been remiss in my posting lately and have to rectify that. I recently picked up a new book, The Change Function,  Why Some Technologies Take Off and Other Crash and Burn, by Pip Coburn. Pip has been actively following change for at least a dozen years.

I have been involved with new technologies throughout my career and have encountered ones that all the developers believed would be the next “killer ap” only to find it ended up the next “killed ap”. Most people involved with new technologies come to understand that changing end user behavior is the most difficult aspect of new technology adoption.

There have been volumes written on the subject from the likes of Geoffrey Moore and his Crossing the Chasm to Clayton Christensen’s, Innovators Dilemma. Each has a viewpoint on the problem and how to address it.

What I like about Pip’s book is that he describes a simple concept to understand when and how significant the adoption might be. He calls this TPPA, which stands for the Total Perceived Pain of Adoption. He looks at TPPA in relation to the Crisis or Problem that the new technology is attempting to solve. If the TPPA is not a significant (10X) improvement, then it will probably not be successful.

He gives a few examples like the Tablet PC that a number of PC manufacturers believed would be the salvation of a lagging PC business but found sales mediocre at best. The key element that was missing was the lack of a crisis if a users next PC did not come with handwriting recognition! No crisis, no 10X improvement, TPPA extremely high = Mediocre sales.

An entrepreneur developing technology products and solutions might not agree with everything Pip covers, but it is worth looking at how relevant his theory is to your business. I think I can make a case for the crisis of products failing is high and the TPPA on looking at Pips theory in relation to your products is low, which could lead to better product development decisions.


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July 2006
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