Jump To The Next Curve

I attended the annual meeting of the Mass Software council (www.swcouncil.org) last Wednesday, where the keynote speaker was Guy Kawasaki. Guy is CEO of Garage.com (www.garage.com), and author of the book,Rules for Revolutionaries: The Capitalist Manifesto for Creating and Marketing New Products and Services. He is also generally considered the key player in the success of the Macintosh computer, while working as “Lead Evangelist” at Apple (www.apple.com) in the mid- to late-eighties.

He offered ten suggestions — all detailed in his book — for people trying to, “beat the competition and triumph in today’s hypercharged business environment.” Jump to the Next Curve, was one of these suggestions:

Guy told the story of how ice was originally “harvested” by companies who went to northern states in the winter and brought it south for people in warmer climates. As these companies grew, they focused their efforts on building sharper ice cutting saws and improving their transportation methods, to get the ice to its destination cheaper and faster. Over time however, the technology for making ice was developed, and the ice harvesting business disappeared. Interestingly, not a single harvesting company went on to become an ice making company despite their early lead in the business of providing ice to consumers, and all eventually went out of business.

More recent examples of this “missing the curve” phenomenon exist on the Internet. Sports Illustrated, which was late to recognize the web’s power in providing up-to-the-minute sports information remains a distant third behind SportsLine and ESPNet in this category; Barnes and Noble meanwhile, continues to play catch up to Amazon. Both companies had early, seemingly insurmountable leads, that were lost because they didn’t see the next curve coming.

Guy’s recommendation for jumping to the next curve: “Purge Your Idols.” Whether your idol is the telephone-based call center, the focus group, the direct mail piece, or the harvesting of ice, you need to consider whether you are looking for ways to accomplish your goals differently, or simply focusing on fine tuning the machine you’ve already built.

Discussion Questions:

1. How come all those hot Internet companies stick capital letters in the middle of their names (e.g. SportsLine, FairMarket, MediaOne)? Isn’t that kind of BiZarre?

2. Don’t you wish you had as cool a name as Guy Kawasaki?


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