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“An idea that is developed and put into action
is more important than an idea that exists
only as an idea.”

                        The Gautama Buddha
                        c. 563-486 BCE


"Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas.
If your ideas are any good,
you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats

                        Howard H. Aiken,
                        Computer Pioneer

ACM DL Author-ize serviceDon't bring me a good idea
Phillip G. Armour
Communications of the ACM, 2011

Good Idea = Not Enough                                               

According to Jason Kalich1, simply having a good idea for software process change just isn't enough.  Most decision makers are looking for (in increasing order of attractiveness):

  1. A good idea
  2. A clearly rational and sensible approach to improving process
  3. Putative cost and schedule savings
  4. Potential revenue growth somewhere in the future
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ACCEPTABILITY BOUNDARY
  5. Clearly identified internal cost savings including: cost reduction, schedule reduction, overhead reduction, staff retention, etc.
  6. Clearly identified external benefits: marketing costs, customer retention, time to market
  7. Proven revenue growth: new products, new customers, new markets

The last is the big one.  All the others are either hypothetical or realize relatively incompressible savings; only new products, customers, and markets is open-ended.

Not Crossing the Chasm                                           

Anything above the line is generally not accepted by management.  Why?  They don't see any benefit.  This is an example of not "crossing the chasm" (from Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm Harper Business 1991). 

On the leading edge side of the chasm you have the early adopters and advocates.  These are the dreamers.  They are conceptual and reward oriented tending to see what might happen if the idea were accepted.  These people do not have checkbooks, since they would undoubtedly buy something with them if they did.

 = = = = = = = = = = = THEN THERE IS THE CHASM = = = = = = = = = = = = =

On the other side of the chasm are the people who run the business.  They are not early adopters.  They are not dreamers (unless the dream involves lots of money).  They are practical and risk oriented people who tend to see all the problems that might arise if ideas were accepted.  These are the people with the checkbooks, but they don't open them for good ideas.  They only open them for things that will make them money; things that are proven to make money.

How to Sell Your Process Improvement                   

Simple.  Craft it as a market and revenue growth initiative.  Don't do the "cost savings."  For sure don't do the "good idea" thing--it's not enough.


1 when participating in the Quest Conference in Chicago April 22 2009 See


Don't Bring me a Good Idea