Almost everyone I talk to about starting Knowledge Architecture from the software/technology world asks me if I have read “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore. The answer is yes, and I think it is great. For those who haven’t read it, Crossing the Chasm explores the phenomenon that seems to sink most technology companies as they try to move from servicing the evangelists and early-adopters that got them started to the mainstream customers that will ensure lasting success. A great number of companies fail to make that leap…falling into the chasm in a flaming pile of wreckage.
A lesser known, but in many ways more compelling read, at least for a company in the early stages of starting up is “The Four Steps to the Epiphany” by Steven Gary Blank. Blank, a serial entrepreneur and fan of Geoffrey Moore’s work, posits most companies get Product Development all wrong. He claims that companies rush into Product Development way too early, skipping the essential activities that he defines as “Customer Development.” Customer Development is the process of actively (through the four steps outlined in his book) engaging early customers to validate your product or service vision before you even write a line of code. Many people have called it (including Blank himself) the prequel to Crossing the Chasm.
While Blank focuses very heavily on software and/or web companies, I firmly believe the lessons in the book would be good for any enterprise that is in early days or looking to reinvent their business model. He emphasized action and prototyping over planning –spending as much time as possible with customers instead of dreaming in your office.
I learned of the book from Jeffry McGrew of Because We Can. Jeffrey is one of the most passionate, exciting people that I know. If you don’t know of his work, especially his “Fab-Lab” you should check out his site right now.