Do we gerrymander our product’s market?

Notice: I make absolutely no political statements in the following. 

Of course, we gerrymander our product’s market. We don’t intend to represent all of our customers either. When we introduce a product, we pick who we will sell it to. We find some rules. Sales qualify their prospects with respect to those rules. Sales bring outliers to us forcing us to say no to their deal or forcing us to redefine the product.

We prioritize. We tradeoff. We waste code. We waste prospects, customers, and users. All of these are our mechanisms for gerrymandering our product. We become insensitive to our prospects, customers, and users.

The technology adoption lifecycle organizes our prospects, customers, and users. With discontinuous innovations, our focus changes as we cross the technology adoption lifecycle. We start out in carrier or protocol, shift to carried content, then shift to carrier again, and subsequently shift back to carried content. We start out in a single form-factor and end broadly in many different form-factors. We start out with risk takers and end with those that take the least risk possible.

This latter characterization demonstrates the pragmatism scale underlying the entire technology adoption lifecycle.

With continuous innovations, typical these days, we don’t do the whole lifecycle. We jump into the late phases and move to later phases. We act surprised when our offer suddenly has run through all of our addressable prospects. We surprise ourselves when we realize we need something new. Yes, even Apple surprised itself with this many times since the first Apple computer.

But, here I’m talking about the pragmatism scale organizing our business with the phases of the lifecycle, not just phases. The finer we go with this the more likely a release will address prospects different from our consumers, and users with use cases organized in pragmatism slices, not just time slices. We end up with slices at one scale within slices of another scale. We end up with queues. We end up with boundaries.

Not attending to those boundaries results in gerrymandering which in turn leaves us inattentive to opportunities for customization in use cases, and pricing.

Mathematicians are addressing political gerrymandering now. See How to Quantify (and Fight) Gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering our products is a hard problem. The scales we use need to be aligned with our release cycle. Decide on scales. Then, get agreement on where the product and company are on the technology adoption lifecycle. Make a map. Know your pragmatism boundaries.

Moore described the pragmatism boundaries in terms of reference groups. Everyone in a particular slice refers to people, businesses, and business cases in their slice and nearby adjacencies. Each slice has it’s own evidence. This generates some communications isolations that grant us pricing isolations. Communications channels generate more boundaries, more to map.

The use cases served in the current slice will differ from the use cases in earlier slices. Yes, as time goes by the economic customer becomes more pragmatic, but then, so could the use cases and the marketing content.

To make matters harder, sales consumes each population at a different speed and might sell much more randomly without regard to lifecycle or pragmatism scale or communications channel considerations. Just a warning.

Growth would impact all of this. A prospect once sold is forever a customer ever after.

And, of course, all the talk of listening to customers et. al. becomes a matter of where on our map that customer is speaking from. How does the map bundle that feedback? And, how does that feedback verify efforts?

Quite a mess, a profitable mess.


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