Read This Book: The Change Function

Just a few days into the new year is a great time to look back at 2007 and reflect about what book influenced me the most. Pip Coburn’s The Change Function–recommended by my friend and colleague Erik Meijer–stands out as the clear winner.

Pip shares his insight about assessing the success of high-tech products. He boils it down to the ratio between the current customer pain (P) and the total perceived pain of adoption (TPPA) for a new technology. From Chapter 5 on the book contains case studies and projections for various products, including DEC’s Alpha chip, ISDN, TiVo, flat panel TV, and satellite radio. The probing questions from Chapter 11 are great!

Going through this book influenced the way I think about technology products in general, and software projects in particular. I got to enjoy the mental exercise of understanding and articulating the customer pain, and then the total perceived pain of adopting the solution(s).

On the last day of 2007 an email inquiry about Kindle reminded me of the Change Function–perfect timing for a reminder to reflect about the year’s most influential book. Answer the following questions to compute its Change Function:

  • What is the crisis ?
  • Is the crisis the supplier’s or the consumers’ ?
  • What is the perceived pain of adopting the solution ?

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