Seven Quotes on Learning and Measurement From Marty Neumeier

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

In July I posted “Ten Design Thinking Quotes From Marty Neumeier. Mr. Neumeier has continued his drip irrigation of brilliant insights on twitter at @MARTYneumeier so here are seven of his recent ones related to learning and measurement.

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“Instead of viewing an acquired company as an uneducated child, view it as an inspired teacher.”
Marty Neumeier

Even though I have  been through a number of acquisitions on both sides of the transaction I find this insight very powerful. Before I read this I assumed that the best that could be done was to leave the acquired unit with as much autonomy as possible. There is a strong temptation for employees of the buyer to settle disagreements with acquired employees  with “just remember, we bought you.” This is a much better model for acquisition integration

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“In an age of accelerating change, how you learn is more important than what you learn.”
Marty Neumeier

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“If an opportunity is off the charts, there’s no point in saying it’s two times off the charts. ”
Marty Neumeier

It’s also probably more important to identify what you are going to sacrifice or stop doing so that you can pursue it.

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“There are no generally accepted accounting principles for new ideas.”
Marty Neumeier

I think it’s worse than that. In “Better, Impossible and Unthinkable Products” I blogged about three kinds of products:

  1. Better products follow an established trajectory in an industry. They are “15 minutes ahead” and the easiest to sell…for a while. Examples include faster computers with larger memory and cars with better gas mileage.  The ideas associated with these products tend to represent incremental improvements along established trajectories and normally represent opportunities that are comprehensible within the established accounting and business models for a firm. They are also typically the smallest opportunity but the easiest to generate and implement so you end up doing a lot of them.
  2. Impossible products find a way to relax one or two constraints that designers of better products have taken as fixed. They are harder to sell, not so much because they are hard to understand but difficult to believe, prospects will ask you “What’s the catch?” Examples include ATM Machines replacing human tellers to dispense cash and Ethernet over twisted pair. Some of the constraints that these products obsolete may be baked into your accounting model, which is normally the scorekeeping mechanism for your business model, and may trigger a response similar to a “divide by zero” exception in a spreadsheet.
  3. Unthinkable products are typically developed by someone from outside the target industry or are the result of repurposing a product from another industry. Their developers were not handicapped by the mental roadblocks that come from following established practices and patterns in an industry. They can be extremely difficult to get prospects to understand–much less believe in–as they are almost always incompatible with current practices and infrastructure. But they can create an entirely new category of product. Examples include: IDDQ testing in semiconductors,  the Reebok Pump shoe, and Henry Ford realizing that a meat packing plant’s “disassembly line” could be run backward to assemble a car. These product almost always demand changes in the business model and are ignored in favor of better products until a company reaches a crisis point where better is not good enough.

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“The problem with business metrics: measurability decreases as importance increases.”
Marty Neumeier

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“All innovations get measured by the marketplace. The trick is to get a preview before you launch.”
Marty Neumeier

The risk here is customer development and validation done wrong. You have no choice but to estimate and then validate likely market acceptance prior to investing in a major launch.

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“Measurement and imagination are locked in a dance they can do either badly or well.”
Marty Neumeier

I think you need intuition and imagination to leap away of a local maximum, a product which any small change seems to make worse. You have to have the insight into customer needs (perhaps customers in a new market) to make some big changes that may make the product even more attractive and/or more profitable.

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Comments (2)

  • JP Rosevear

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    Is there more context to:
    “In an age of accelerating change, how you learn is more important than what you learn.”

    I understand that building a learning process is key, but applying it to the wrong things seems just as much a dead end as having no learning process.

    Reply

  • SKMurphy » Building and Managing a Learning Process

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    […] response to yesterday’s post on “Seven Quotes on Learning and Measurement from Marty Neumeier“   JP Rosevear asked: Is there more context to: “In an age of accelerating change, […]

    Reply

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