Chris Gagné

Delight customers. Create value. Do good.

Tag: software

A Response to Marty Cagan’s “Product Management vs. Product Marketing”

Although over 6-1/2 years old, Marty Cagan’s “Product Management vs. Product Marketing” remains the Silicon Valley Product Group’s top blog article. (It’s entirely possible, of course, that it’s popularity is self-reinforced due to its prominent position on the SVPG home page…) While I generally agree with Marty’s premise and proposed solution, I believe that the article was written primarily from a Waterfall perspective and that an Agile perspective offers a better way out.
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Congrats to the StubHub Labs team!

I’ve been coaching the StubHub Labs team on Agile, Scrum, and Kanban principles and practices since last July ’13. They got a nice shout-out on eBay’s corporate blog yesterday…

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Strongly Recommended Agile Learning Resources

One of the things that I think holds Scrum teams back from being successful is that they often learn about the Scrum process but don’t learn about Agile culture or infrastructure. Because Scrum is a system that relies on all of it’s parts, failure to master Agile culture and infrastructure means that companies will also fail to master Scrum. This failure is unbelievably costly for companies and teams: “average” teams deliver only a 35% improvement over Waterfall, while properly coached teams deliver 300-400% improvements. I’ve seen this myself in my time working with Scrum teams at Atomic Online: once a team got properly coached and running, we were at least 3-4x as fast as when we started. This is rare, too: I have not yet worked with a team that has outperformed the teams I worked with at Atomic Online.

I think we owe it to ourselves as members of Scrum team to learn about and embrace Agile principles. This is hard to do without a “sensei” (a well-experienced Agile leader) who can can conduct gemba walks with incumbent leadership to bring about organizational transformation. In lieu of that, though, here are some resources that I hope can help to at least illustrate the difference between a true Agile/Scrum/Kanban environment and a waterfall environment that has adopted a few Scrum processes.

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The Customer is the Marshmallow

Spaghetti and Twine

Many of you will be familiar with Peter Skillman’s Marshmallow Challenge, an exercise frequently given to teams and business school students. Teams of four are given 20 pieces of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, one yard of twine, and a marshmallow. They are then given 18 minutes to build a free-standing structure that places the marshmallow as high off of the table as possible. The team with the highest marshmallow wins.

If you haven’t seen it already, Tom Wujec’s TED talk is a good place to learn about the challenge. And if you haven’t introduced your team(s) to it, take 45 minutes out of one of your days to administer the challenge and see what revelations you get.

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Cheat Neutral and Carbon Offsets

This is a clever approach to parodying carbon emission permits. While I generally endorse the idea of carbon emission permits, I think the folks at Cheat Neutral have an interesting perspective that a) additionality is not guaranteed, and b) “offseting” a transgression does not necessarily make  it acceptable in the first place. Carbon offsets are “indulgences.”

I might take a slightly different perspective. My upcoming study trip to Jouy-en-Josas is going to use a lot of fuel. According to, it’s going to introduce ~3.11 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, which is slightly less than the 3.72 metric tons I’d introduce driving my 2004 Toyota Prius 20,000 miles in a year (a typical usage pattern for me). My personal consumption patterns (e.g., purchase of overseas goods, non-local produce, air-conditioning in the San Fernando Valley) also contribute significantly to my carbon footprint.

I’m unlikely to stop flying because of the carbon output. Buying a carbon offset, even if it doesn’t completely reduce the amount of carbon I “introduced” into the atmosphere by taking the flight, is at least a good gesture. Changing my behavior—such as living closer to work, using public transport, or editing my consumption patterns—would more directly reduce my carbon footprint, making them more valuable than personal carbon offsets in the long term. Obviously, this requires a greater change of habits.

Personal carbon offsets will do a lot of good if they get people thinking about the negative externalities resulting from their consumption, even if their actual offset effects are slight.

Finally, there’s much more to carbon offsets than personal consumption. I am optimistic that they can be a useful tool at the macro level. In addition, a liquid carbon market would allow citizens to decrease their own consumption to buy carbon emission permits and personally “lock them away.”

Apple App Store Sales Numbers

From Bernard Chen and TechCrunch, an interesting summary about the economic implications of the Apple App Store for developers.

For all of you App developers (Amy!), TechCrunch had a great article describing sales numbers for AppStore products. Of particular note:
Across 96 developers who responded, the average app sold 100k copies over 261 days with a median price of $0.99 at a development cost of $6.5k.
Removing the top 10% of products, the numbers drop a lot, which is a common in competitive markets. The numbers for the remaining 90%: 11k copies over 44 days. That’s a big difference. The lesson there: Go big. The smaller apps don’t get the same amount of time in the spotlight (44 days vs 261) and don’t make as much money ($11k vs $100k).
About staying in the spotlight, the author suggests providing a compacted, bunched marketing campaign when the spotlight is on your app instead of spreading the campaign out over time. Use any press to springboard your way into other press and maintain your marketing momentum.

That final bit is a good takeaway for any of you who are entrepreneurs/indie developers. Developing a good product is an important part of the business, but harnessing the powers of marketing and P/R (mostly PR for indies) is what drives the revenue that allows you to develop a version 2 and 3.

The link:

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