Partying like it’s PC99

TechBooks
A group from my old Hardware Evangelism team* at Microsoft reconvened recently, just to check in with each other. This is the crew that:

  • Made sure you don’t have to set a jumper on the motherboard if you want to switch between audio and a CD drive.
  • Rid the PC of legacy connectors in favor of USB, got wired and wireless networking to work consistently, drove DVD into the business laptop market.
  • Fixed annoyances like color-coded connectors and making your external mouse and touchpad both work simultaneously on your laptop.
  • Brought 3D graphics to every PC.

And, critically important, we got the industry to design and built hardware so that Plug and Play works.

In the flow of the afternoon conversations, these ideas surfaced about how to drive change:

  • Know who the real  influencers are—not just who makes the most noise or demands to be the leader.
    This is like identifying Mavens and Connectors, as Malcolm Gladwell describes in The Tipping Point. It’s not about the old-style “Who’s has the D (decision)?” at Microsoft.
  • Know what the “target” really needs for change to occur.
    (I don’t actually like the term “target” because it makes me think of trebuchets…)
    This is deeper than a typical marketing analysis or documentation strategy. What do people really need to change their habits or beliefs or inclinations? It might not be glamorous, and it might be very difficult to create. And likely as not, the “target audience” doesn’t know what it needs if you are truly driving innovation.
  • Keep at it.
    “Failure” is just a short-term datapoint for the next action in your strategy.
    You do have a long-term strategy, right?

I’m curious: If you drive a technology or innovation strategy, what are your guiding principles? How do you create and manage your strategy?
Is significant, usable technical communication part of your strategy?

*Motto: “We changed the world”

— Annie Pearson

About EAStewart

Author of the Accidental Heretics series

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