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January 11, 2013

pickadeck – PIVOT #1 – market the solution as Vertical

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I was recently forwarded an excellent post from Joel Spolsky’s blog “Joel on Software” title “How Trello is different” and the first part of the post resonated with me and our current strategy for pickadeck.

See, Joel shows how Trello is a “totally horizontal product”, it can be used by people from all walks of life, and from some of the Trello boards I have seen, I think he is quite right and that many people are experimenting with it. He also explains that trying to launch a horizontal product – that can be used by all walks of life – is probably not a wise thing to do for an unknown startup. Well, I also agree with that, because to be fair that is exactly the problem we are facing with pickadeck.

The Vision for pickadeck is to “Drastically Improve the Success Rate of Culture Change Management Initiatives Within Organisations“. We define Culture as set of practices and behaviours that over time become the “way we do things ’round here” within companies. Some statistics put change management failure rate in the 70%, from our experience that’s about right if not conservative.

Our Strategy was initially to offer a social mechanism for presenting, implementing, exchanging and steering ALL TYPES of  culture change initiatives within large organisations (from new project methodologies, to ITIL, to TickIT, to business process re-engineering, and all the other management “disciplines” we couldn’t think of by that we knew were part of the 70% failure ratio).

Our first product is definitely in line with both our Vision and Strategy, but lacks in UX goodness – if you have already used pickadeck you know that we haven’t got a “friction free” app yet: the essential features are all there, and it is already possible to serve up all the objectives mentioned in our strategy.

We have validated a few things already, but there are still many things we need to experiment and try, and as a self funded startup, our runway is pretty short. So knowing that, how can we make sure we learn how to make pickadeck viable enough that it allows us to extend that runway at current burn rate?

In my mind, there is only one way to do this, and that it to pivot for the first time of our history, from our first strategy to a new one: our new Strategy is now to offer a social mechanism for presenting, implementing, exchanging and steering AGILE culture change initiatives.

Changing this has already had a big impact on our next versions: it changes the landing page for the web site, it changes the pricing we were thinking about, it changes the comms we are making, it changes the UX in the next version of the app, it changes the “decks” we are offering, it changes the partnership we need to put in place, it changes… well, it changes everything really. But fundamentally, it won’t change the features set, the capabilities we are offering: the metaphor we are using and the resulting data structure will always allow anyone to extend the use of the app to ANY change management initiative.

To come back to the title of this post, we still indeed have a horizontal capable application, but our pivot is dictating us to market this capability as a vertical, just so that we validate a few more things, including the financially viable aspect of this adventure.

We will continue with this strategy and persevere until we get the strong message that we need another pivot or that it is time to accelerate.

Whichever comes first, bring it on!!

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