Get the Powers to Act from Fresh Ideas

February 20, 2013

Seasons of Life, on February 17, 2011

I travel a lot. On foot and by trains mostly.

Travelling on foot has a purpose, so no problem here.

Traveling by train has no purpose, no meaning, and therefore hard to understand.

Am I taking a train ride to Mandalay? A town I love so much, a town good for fun and music and nothing else for me? Or am I going to Yangon? A new place, a new town that invokes the fear of unknown as well as promises great expectations, challenges, exploits and opportunities?

I read a lot too. For no particular reasons.

Take a lot of notes, dump a lot of notes.

Learn a lot, see a lot, understand a lot. But write very little, even for my diary, let alone this blog or any other place.

For no particular reasons.

Summer vacation. Free, loaf, drift, read for fun, play for fun. Travel for curiosity, read for pure curiosity.

How long can the summer last? How many years have gone in this summer? How many more days will this last?

In my youth, the seasons go like, in Myanmar, Summer(Hot season), Rainy season, Winter(Cold season).

Summer is for loafing.

Rainy season means new/upper/higher class, new lessons, new teachers, new learnings, new understandings, and maybe new friends too.

Winter means long runs, long games, hard studies, exams and tests, prizes and awards, and achievements and recognition.

I didn't have any problem with any season. Neither do I now.

Sweet summer! Then, what?

In Life(or to be more accurate in moods), summer can be followed by winter or rains, or even a new summer!

My Summer is sweet. But it just feels too long. Can't be sustained. When will it be over?

I still want to ...
I still intend to ...
I still believe I can conquer the world somehow.

Good luck.

February 15, 2013

Product Strategy : What is Strategy? -- 2

I asked a very young reader to give me a very brief summary of a previous post What is strategy? He replied: "Everything is leverage."

I realized at once that I had failed to write clearly. Still, I joked: "Oh, yes, making the competition believe that everything is leverage is a good leverage too ... because, as Sun Tzu says, when you defend everywhere, you're not defending anywhere."

Yesterday, we asked: "Are beans in bamboo containers strategic for your army? " and answered "Yes" to that question.

But not all bags of beans can be strategic. They are when they meet the following conditions:
  1. The competition sort of relied on their cavalry. What if they came in boats, on elephants, or merely on foot?
  2. Their horses were poorly fed. What if the other side's commander got wind of you plan and prepared properly for that?
  3. You can take advantage of the ensuing chaos in their cavalry. What if you were far too outnumbered?
  4. The other side's commander would not adapt quickly. What if they dismounted and shot with their arrows, as the Mongols would/did?
  5. Even the weather would be on your side: If it rained too heavy,  if the wind blew too hard, their horses would not be able to catch the enticing smell of your steaming beans on the grounds.
  6. The other side's horses would not come with mouth guards.
  7. The other side did not use some medicine to de-sensitize their horses' sense of smell.
  8. Maybe many, many more factors.
These are trash, hoarding, OCD(Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), not strategic assets.

When Do Trash Become Strategic Assets?

You need the big picture, the mosaic, the collage where each trash becomes a component, an element, a cog the wheel, a brick in the cathedral, and so on.

How Do You Get the Big Picture, the Mosaic, the Collage?

Two methods as far as I know:
  1. Your parents have coup d'oei in their DNA
  2. You hire McKinsey, Bain, Booz, Accenture, HopeHero etc.

February 11, 2013

Rip-off and Rebuild Software Development

On bitbucket, google code repository, GitHub, I find a lot of django/GoogleAppEngine-Python codes for almost anything: social network, forum, message board, LMS(learning mgmt system), CMS(content mgmt system), wiki, quizz, collaborative writing, shared whiteboard, mobile app etc.

Shouldn't we extract some value from them?

As we all know, Python is not Perl/PHP or even Java. It's a very good-natured langauge.

Login, logout from App1, quiz from App2, friendship invite from App3 etc are there for us to mix and match as our kids play with Lego kits.

My trainees have lots of experience for this kind of not-cut-and-paste but rip-off-and-rebuild development.

If some of us can find a business model to go with that Lego-style app, we may make some money for us.

February 9, 2013

Product Development: Processes and Steps

According to the literature, Product Development consists of the following processes and step/stages:

  1. Identify market opportunities, market segmentations, positioning, and marketing mix(4P's, 6P's etc).
  2. Identify customer needs.
  3. Generate product ideas, concepts, visuals and design of User Experience.
  4. Product Portfolio, product lines, product architecture, business cases and stage-gates
  5. Product life cycle management: Reinforcement, Renewal, Resurrection, Retirement
  6. MVP(minimal viable product) and prototyping
  7. Market testing
  8. Project management and WBD, Gantt chart, PERT chart etc
  9. Manufacturing
  10. Brand equity management, sales training, marketing in general
  11. Go-to-market efforst, distribution, logistics etc.
Our approach is more focused, more adaptive and more suitable for software businesses.

  Trends ---> UX ---> MVP prototyping ---> Market testing
  Needs  ---> UX  ---> MVP prototyping ---> Market testing

With the following iterative/feedback loops running throughout:

     Market testing---> Trends
      Market testing---> Needs
      Market testing---> UX
      Market testing---> MVP prototyping

February 8, 2013

Product Strategy : What is Strategy?

I've been burned so many times. So I learned.

I learn that you must obviously sound and look humble in online communication, discussion etc. So, here I am ---- humble both by nature and by discipline.

What is strategy?
I don't know clearly.

I don't even have a clear answer for: What is strategic?

I only have stories, anecdotes, case studies, fragmented impressionistic data. Maybe too simplistic for Harvard/Standford Profs and for you too.
  1. Are beans in bamboo containers strategic for your army?
  2. Are trumpets strategic for your army?
  3. Are drums strategic for your army?
  4. Are silk vests strategic for your army?
  5. Is medicine for cracked winter feet strategic for your army?
Yes, according to military histories of the Chinese and the Mongols and  Punic Wars .
  1. Are dental chairs strategic for your army?
  2. Is winning hearts and minds strategic for your army?
Yes, according to military histories of the British.

What About Software Business?

  1. Is "pizzazz" and "sizzle" strategic for your websites?
  2. Is "design" strategic for your websites?
Yes to Question 1,according to Don’t Make Me Think, if your site is entertainment(movies, musics, games), pure branding(cereal), or -- I forgot this last one ;-)

Yes to Question 2, according to this Fast Company article

"A reliance on design-driven innovation poses a challenge for the companies that live by it: You can’t easily patent how something looks, or the feel of a user interface. Features, subtleties, and finishes spawn imitators with unprecedented speed. That means that design-led companies must innovate constantly to maintain their edge. And that’s exactly what makes the stories in this issue so interesting."

So What Is Strategic?

They say that leverage can be found in "strange places". What kind of "strange"? What kind or kinds of places? Why strange places?

Leverage, a beautiful word, indeed. Especially in deeds.

February 6, 2013

Product Development : Designer Speak, Definitely Absolutely Seriously

I have been learning to think, work and communicate like a product guy/gal.
I read this article in the print version "Dave Morin Explains It All," Fortune September 24, 2012. Online version is at "Dave Morin Explains It All"
Now, here are some quotes, only one of which was actually uttered by the great Dave Morin. (First, he worked in Apple's marketing, then he worked at Facebook where he invented Facebook Connect and Facebook Platform, and now he's running Path), and the rest are made up by me.

Can you tell the authentic from the fake, the profound from the pseudo-profound?
  1. "With life, mobile has become the platform
  2. "With platform, mobile has become life"
  3. "With mobile, life has become the platform"
  4. "With life, the platform has become mobile"
  5. "With mobile, platform has become the life"
  6. "With the platform, life has become mobile"
The answer can be found in the article: Dave Morin Explains It All

This is how we develop tastes, right? Good luck.

Comming Posts

I'm going to compare HungryGoWhere to Yelp/Singapore. This is a sort of preview/teaser.


February 5, 2013

Invitation to Marketers and Promoters

November 23, 2012

We are developing an application for primary and secondary students all the world over.

It's a free app with premium services for paying users.

We want as many students themselves and their parents as possible to become aware of it and to try it out.

  1. Can you help us locate where they are?
  2. Can you spread our message among them: email, direct mail, flyer, social media groupings, Youtube, slide share, ezine publishing, mobile messages, PR, ANY OTHER WAY?
  3.  Can you drive traffic to our app/site?
  4.  Once they are at the site, can you help us encourage / cajole / entice / seduce them try out our service?

Beyond that point, we take over.

We take it upon ourselves to ensure
  1. that our app is intuitive and easy to use,
  2. that its benefits are obvious to the users,
  3. that the fees are reasonable and affordable and easy to pay, and so on.

Here also, we are open to your contributions
  1. What features will increase our value to the users?
  2. What benefits will they like to get?
  3. What concerns would we address?
  4. Reduce or increase price? and so on.

Are your team comfortable doing these activities?

PS. True, we will stop funding any product that fails to meet our milestone/target.

But, before we do that, we will try to morph it into a far better product. Even if we kill a product, we stay in the same line of business and still go after the same types of customers.

So, please also think about long-term benefits that you can get from starting a long-term relationship with us. When Product AZ 1.0 of ours goes, AZ 2.1 will come, and when AZ line goes, there will be BQ, CW, DY lines and so on. And you should still be promoting them for us to our mutual prosperity.

February 4, 2013

Life Being Stranger than Fiction: MVC in Joomla!

How many steps do you think you have to take to write a Hello World MVC in a web app? About 17, and about hundreds of code lines and configuration lines if you are doing ti in Joomla! I am not making this up. Check the links below.
  6. ...
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Product Strategy : Military History Emphasizes its Importance

Reading "Agile Experience Design," I noticed the following quote on page-52.

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."

The source is Sun Tzu's "The Art of War":

I've read different versions of and addendums to Sun Tzu. But I've never seen this before. However, the concepts are in line with his spirit and philosophy. So, I'll regard them as authentically put down by the Master himself.

We're taking our own medicine. Our strategy&UX  campaign may be just a mere noise before it dies out. However, we are attempting in  some other fronts, too.

February 3, 2013

Hedgehog vs All-terrain Homosapien

Bill Gates: "Intelligence is not fungible."

Proverb: "Jack of all trades, master of none"

Jim Collins: "hedgehog"

Buffet and Munger: "circles of competence"

Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie: "Put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket extra-carefully."

I like this spirit of humility and modesty.

Given our human limitations, we can't escape focus and specialization.

However, hedgehogs shouldn't be too smug either.

With your shiny, trusty hammer, what if everything does look to you like a nail?

February 2, 2013

Creating Original and Non-original Softwares

The Original School

 "ambition,""revolutions," "revolutionary"
"original," "radical"
"creativity," "innovation," "lateral thinking,"
"invention," "reinvention," "disruption,"
"leadership," "platform leadership," "leapfrogging," "blue ocean strategy,"
"positioning," "re-positioning,"
"market domination,"

The Non-Original School

Fast Seconds
Entrepreneurial Judo
Busting profit pool a la Michael Dell, Dell CEO
The margin, the opportunity a la Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO.

The Honest School

  1. Einstein (in paraphrase) : Originality is nothing but forgetting one's sources.
  2. Scott Adam (in paraphrase) : Originality = theft + lack of talent + time
  3. Bruce Lee (in paraphrase) : Origin of the technique doesn't matter. Just express yourself honestly, truthfully.

The Deep School

  1. An old German tract that suggests , for three whole days, shutting out the world, listening to one's own thoughts and recording them faithfully. 
  2. Go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows: Rainer Maria Rilke

February 1, 2013

Product Strategy : Useful Astrology Apps

This happened about 15 years ago in Myanmar. This is also happening with many softwares today.

At that time, I had taken a 4-weeks course in Visual Basic, and another 4-weeks course in Visual C++. I had already rented a Windows PC at home.

I knew a bit of many kinds of astrology techniques, those kinds you can read in magazines and can master in a few minutes.

I was eager to code those astrology techniques into some GUI/desktop apps.

Before I started coding, I looked around. I read in some Myanmar magazines about some theses on astrology at our Computer University. Their calculations were thick,deep and complex. That's fine.

What was not so fine: their outputs were also very hard to understand.

I also checked out some Astrology CD's written by Myanmar programmers, selling at about K 400. Their outputs were of the same kind as those of the theses. (At that time Don Norman hasn't written Living with Complexity. He hasn't proclaimed that "Make output understandable.").

I couldn't learn from them, and so I coded my own design.

Front End

  1. 1 text box to enter user's question
  2. 1 button beneath it

Back End

  1. Read the user's question.
  2. Throw a 6-sided dice 6 times, since this is I Ching.
  3. Using the result from the dice throws, read from a table of answers.
  4. Show the answer to user.
I padded the answer with some folk psychology. I tested the app on my students, and I watched them discreetly from a distance.  At that time, "Usability Testing" was not even in my vocabulary.

My cost to create this was about 8 hours of coding and 8 hours of reading. And users liked it a bit.
Compare this to the other software makers' costs and the users' reaction to their softwares.