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Archive for May, 2008

Courtney got this link from her sister. It’s a newspaper ad from 1989 for the Tandy 5000 MC Professional System. First off, it just jumped off the page what an anachronistic view of technology this contained. It’s expensive, over $8k, and the monitor and mouse aren’t included! It also lacks power — just the phrase “lightening fast 20MHz” made me snicker.

But it got me thinking about the idea that Nextpoint is moving our customers off of this platform — finally, more than 20 years later! But the idea is still pervasive, down to the idea that this “strictly business” Micro (ha!) Computer operates “network operating software”. The fundamental model that this ad proposes – a standalone computer with business applications loaded on it connected to a network – is one all of the largest law firms in the country employ today.

That model is quickly being out-moded. Why? The users of the Tandy 5000 MC Professional System would be able to boot into and start using their business applications far quicker than any big firm lawyer can today. It just doesn’t work as fast as it used to. What other technology model can you say that about?

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Threadless and Inc.

Shout out to our neighbors at Threadless who are the cover of Inc. magazine. Really cool stuff, I’ve linked to the 37signals blog because it’s got the cover image.

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A nicely put together little introduction to SaaS and how it differs in important ways from old school ASP models.

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I always grab a book to read when I go on vacation. Something that doesn’t pertain to my work is typically the primary objective and I like it to be printed on actual paper. So a couple months ago on a trip to Florida, I picked up a copy of Steve Martin’s autobiographical “Born Standing Up.” Funny thing is, while it had nothing to do with software development or legal technology, I came out of it full of new ideas. Martin tells the story of his career as a stand-up comic. Where he started and why he stopped. It was funny, but in a completely different way than his stand-up act was funny. More than anything else, it was inspirational and a shrine to innovative thinking. Here are some of my takeaways that can be applied to any innovative business model from “Born Standing Up.”

It takes time to innovate. As Martin explains “overnight success” was only achieved after 10 years of struggling. It takes time to get things right and in the early days you’ll only have fans that really want things to change and improve.

Innovation is a partnership between the artist and the audience. In Martins case many of his favorite bits just didn’t fly. He decided to tuck them away and bring them back later. Don’t keep pushing things that don’t work because you think it’s right. And when an inadvertent act proves funny, keep it in the show.

Leverage your strengths. Martin started off his show business career working in a magic shop at Disneyland. He had a small act of non-comedic magic that he would later leverage in his stand-up act in a very innovative and funny way.

Look for opportunities from set-backs. As Martin stated “stand-up is seldom performed in ideal circumstances” and “the seedier the circumstances, the funnier one can be.”

Steve Martin may be a comedian, a trade many of us think comes naturally, but just like anything else it takes over coming many challenges to be a successful innovator.

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