Nerd Guru

Because technical people need good soft skills to get ahead.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Tac Anderson: Dead Vikings and small commitments

When do you take the plunge? Technologies are constantly evolving around us, but it can be difficult to know when to jump on the bandwagon of one of them. Tac Anderson had a great post over at his blog this week that tackles this problem we all face entitled, Business Lessons from a Dead Viking that argues the earlier and more often you tinker with a new concept, the better off you are.

In his article, Tac cites an interesting story from a book he recently read featuring a case study involving a failed settlement attempt of Greenland by Vikings. When they failed to recognize and react to small but consistent changes in their environment. Weather changes altered the length of seasons which influenced farming patterns that led to more rapid cutting of forests and other things spun out of control until they finally perished.

Tac takes this lesson the Vikings learned and extends it to more modern business problems. At the end of his post:

"The earlier you are able to analyze a new opportunity, typically the cheaper it s to make small commitments. If the opportunity turns out to be one not worth pursuing, it is easy to get out. If you wait until something is a viable opportunity to make an investment, it will typically be much more expensive."

This is akin to finding a problem during the design phase of a product is much cheaper than finding it in the manufacturing phase or certainly than when the product has already shipped to customers. The hard part is knowing which opportunities to experiment with, since you can't try them all out, but Tac makes a great point that the earlier you get involved, the less expensive it is.


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posted by Pete Johnson @ 7:33 AM   2 comments


At 10:48 AM, Blogger Tac said...

I think one important point to make is that "trying" something first starts with learning about something. If more companies even did this with new opportunities they would be ahead of the game.
The process of learning about something will help companies realize which products to try and which ones aren't even worth the effort. It all starts with being a little more open.

At 10:58 AM, Blogger Pete Johnson said...

Agreed, Tac.

My favorite thing about my job and my career is all the learning opportunities that constantly surround me. When I graduated from UCSD, nobody ever heard of HTTP or HTML and Java was being developed in a lab somewhere. That's true of lots of careers and I've been fortunate to find that aspect that I enjoy in mine.


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