Tilting at the Windmill of New Product Development

I’m getting that three year itch to build another software product. There is just something in me that loves identifying a latent unmet need and then doing the user research to design an appropriate product. As much as I continue to think that I will trip over a pet rock opportunity and start a company just for a quick one hit wonder, I always come back to creating new software.

Yesterday, I came across this wonderful Dilbert cartoon that reminded me of all the skeptics we have to deal with in the software creation process. I live for “fake buy-in.”

The cartoon reminds me of what was often the crippling process of obtaining “buy-in” at Digital Equipment Corporation for new products like ALL-IN-1. We collectively shared the following story to demonstrate the “buy-in” challenge.

It was a close baseball game between the Red Sox and the Yankees at Fenway Park in Boston. The score was tied 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and the bases loaded.  The batter hits a slow roller to the third baseman.  The third baseman charges the ball and throws a strike to the catcher blocking home plate. The ball and the base runner arrive at home plate at the same time.  In a cloud of dust and the roar of the crowd, the runner and the catcher tumble over each other.  As the dust settled, the catcher raises the ball in his right hand.

The crowd quiets as they wait for the home plate umpire’s decision.  The umpire turns to the base runner and asks “were you safe or out?”

“Safe, of course” the runner answers.

The umpire then turns to the catcher and asks “was the runner safe or out?”

The catcher answers “Out, of course.”

The umpire thinks a minute and then asks the runner and the catcher to meet and discuss the situation. He advises them to come back to him when they have their answer.  He then shares “when you come to an answer, come back to home plate and announce your decision to the crowd.”

Once they announced their decision, the umpire tasks them with gaining the buy-in of the crowd.

And that was the DEC decision making process.

This entry was posted in ALL-IN-1, Dilbert, Humor. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Tilting at the Windmill of New Product Development

  1. David Drake says:

    The idea I pitch from third base to home
    Cannot in itself prevent score on its own
    The catcher must trust I’ll throw to the mitt
    so tagging the runner is sure and is swift.
    The runner has speed and toughness to plow
    over the catcher and end the game now.
    You cannot expect the opposing to reach
    a win loss decision so fresh from the breach
    And the crowd cried out with disdain for the ump
    you’re paid to decide so don’t be a chump.

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