Crossing the Chasm – on one page of A4

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Among my many Business books, I thought the insights in Geoffrey Moores Book “Crossing the Chasm” were brilliant – and useful for helping grow some of the product businesses i’ve run. The only gotcha is that I found myself keeping on cross referencing different parts of the book when trying to build a go-to-market plan for DEC Alpha AXP Servers (my first use of his work) back in the mid-1990’s – the time I worked for one of Digital’s Distributors.

So, suitably bored when my wife was watching J.R.Ewing being mischievous in the first UK run of “Dallas” on TV, I sat on the living room floor and penned this one page summary of the books major points. We grew the DEC business from £12m to £52m in 2 years after using this work, so a lot of the lessons appeared to be good ones. Just click it to download the PDF with my compliments. Or watch him describe the model in under 14 minutes at the recent O’Reilly Strata Conference here. Or alternatively, go buy the latest edition of his book:

I did use this as part of a project to increase sales of Trafficmaster SmartNav jam-avoiding in-car navigation systems, which I conducted with the assistance of two professors from Cranfield Business School. We picked three target use cases to take us over the Chasm, with varied success.

I did manage to get 300 of them installed in the complete Virgin Atlantic “Upper Class” Chauffeur Car Fleet, which avoided the normal driver practice of having to wake the passenger up with an abrupt piece of braking as they neared the customers destination. Also saved a phone around to find out who was closest to a customer who just called in (found that the McDonalds outlets around Airports was a favourite haunt of their drivers).

By hook and by crook, we also managed to get test units in the cars of board members of 7 of the top 10 System Integrators in the UK at the time (given they had hundreds of expensive staff on the road every day; thought keeping them out of traffic jams would help their bottom line). Incorrect thought as it turned out; staff competitions to win a one of ten SmartNavs in each company (to promote them down the line, hoping for bottom up demand) invariably ended up with a glut of them on eBay.

Trying to engineer a bridge over a chasm proved difficult when the product is already designed and the B2B use cases wide ranging, especially when sales appeared to be over a myriad of different small segments. The company subsequently went B2C, and I suspect directly into the headlights of the steam roller that TomTom became.

My PA redrew my hand-drawn sheet of A4 into the Microsoft Publisher document that output the one page PDF. I may have the source file somewhere, so if you want a copy of the source file, please let me know – drop a request to: ian.waring@software-enabled.com.

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