Friday, October 23, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Since 1994, free help for people starting a new career, project, campaign or new business.
DENVER—The Denver IDEA Cafe startup workshop meets from 2 to 3:30 p.m. each Friday at Panera Bread, 13th and Grant in Denver. More information and RSVP at http://Meetup.com/Denver-IDEA-Cafe or (303)861-1447.
This Friday, Oct 23: J. Brad Bernthal http://caete.colorado.edu/coursedb/view-instructor/161
Associate Clinical Professor of Law, Technology Policy, Entrepreneurial Law, University of Colorado Law School.
Oct 30: Dawn Todd www.DawnTodd.com, founder of Wildly Successful Women; business coach Jerry Chesser www.ActionCoach.com.
Nov 6: Suzanne Kaller, Arapahoe Library District, about startup resources available in public libraries. http://www.arapahoelibraries.org/go2.cfm?pid=8169
Since 1994, the Denver IDEA Cafe has been helping people who are starting in a new direction by providing a free forum where successful people share their startup experience and then brainstorm specific questions or problems.
IDEA is an acronym for: I= Inspiration or Identify the Problem; D= Develop Alternatives; E= Evaluate the Alternatives; and A= take Action. The meeting is free and open to anyone who is starting a new career, a new campaign or project, or a new business.
Sony's founder, Akio Morita, was a master at watching what consumers were trying to get done and at marrying those insights with solutions that helped them do the job better. Between 1950 and 1982, Sony successfully built twelve different new-market disruptive growth businesses. These included the original battery-powered pocket transistor radio, launched in 1955, and the first portable solid-state black-and-white television, in 1959. They also included videocassette players; portable video recorders; the now-ubiquitous Walkman, introduced in 1979; and 3.5-inch floppy disk drives, launched in 1981. How did Sony find these foothold applications that yielded such tremendous up-side fruit?
Every new-product launch decision during this era was made personally by Morita and a trusted group of about five associates. They searched for disruptive footholds by observing and questioning what people really were trying to get done. They looked for ways that miniaturized, solid-state electronics technology might help a larger population of less-skilled and less-affluent people to accomplish, more conveniently and at less expense, the jobs they were already trying to get done through awkward, unsatisfactory means. Morita and his team had an extraordinary track record in finding these footholds for disruption.
Interestingly, 1981 signaled the end of Sony's disruptive odyssey, and for the next eighteen years the company did not launch a single new disruptive growth business. The company continued to be innovative, but its innovations were sustaining in character-they were better products targeted at existing markets. Sony's PlayStation, for example, is a great product, but it was a late entrant into a well-established market. Likewise, its Vaio notebook computers are great products, but they too were late entrants into a well-established market.
What caused this abrupt shift in Sony's innovation strategy? In the early 1980s Morita began to withdraw from active management of the company in order to involve himself in Japanese politics. (This information was recounted to us in a July 2000 interview with Mickey Schulhoff, who worked for over twenty years as CEO of Sony America and served for much of this time as a member of Sony Corporation's board of directors.)
To take his place, Sony began to employ marketers with MBA's to help identify new-growth opportunities. The MBA's brought with them sophisticated, quantitative, attribute-based techniques for segmenting markets and assessing market potential. Although these methods uncovered some underserved opportunities on trajectories of sustaining improvement in established markets, they were weak at synthesizing insights from intuitive observation. In searching for an initial product foothold in new-market disruption, observation and questioning to determine what customers are trying to do, coupled with strategies of rapid development and fast feedback, can greatly improve the probability that a company's products will converge quickly upon a job that people are trying to get done.