This Guest paper originated from a series of Emails on the ubiquitous Internet. It was prompted by differing views on the reaction of customers to new products. While the author does not profess to be a software project manager, her insights in managing her own work as projects are particularly valuable.
Copyright K. Jones© 2005.
Published here May 2005.

Editor's Preamble | Kate Jones' Viewpoint
On Salability | On Designs and Development
On Government and Private Enterprise | On the Human Response

Kate Jones is president, chief operating officer, and chief designer of Kadon Enterprises, Inc., creators of Gamepuzzles for the joy of thinking ( Kate's war stories include birth in Hungary, bombs in Germany, immigration to America, revolution in Iran. Her self-description reads: "A bemused and kindly traveler of this world, who likes to leave things better than she found them." Kate Jones may be reached at

Editor's Preamble

For the benefit of readers who have not been privy to the following Email exchange, we should explain how it arose. In an Email to several friends, Joe Marasco wrote that a John Walker had expressed some interesting thoughts in the following piece at:[1]

In particular this extract:

"After reviewing a number of business plans and product proposals in 1993, all of which envisioned a totally planned-from-the-start design and development process, I wrote the following piece - ..."

"What I'm talking about is the 'Cult of Design' - the whole bogus idea that with the proper research, our powerful intellect, marshaled by innovative management processes, and, oh yes, breakthrough design, modeling, and simulation tools, we can create, ab initio, products which can be mass manufactured from scratch at precisely predicted cost and quality levels, which are accepted immediately by the identified customers, and return the expected revenue to their developers. What a pile of crap!"

"Evolution is messy, unpredictable, and utterly unmanageable. Its sole advantage is that it works."

Joe added, "Involving customers is very hard to predict. I have pointed out to him [John Walker] that iterative development tries to embrace many of his ideas, without putting vast numbers of customers through the pain of early, perhaps half-baked, releases. At any rate, I think this is a piece we should all read every five years or so, as we believe we are getting closer and closer to a perfect design methodology."

To which I replied:

"Joe, unless I missed it, I think that a point that John Walker misses in the piece you referred to is that while feedback is essential and two way (i.e. to and from), there is also the opportunity for reverse feedback (i.e. from and to)."

The first is represented by "Here's my gizmo what do you think of it". The second says "Show me your gizmo because I might be able to use it, or market it, in a new and different way." (A screwdriver is an excellent device for getting lids off paint tins. It might be an interesting statistic to learn what percentage of sales of screwdrivers is attributable to their use as a lever!) The most profitable source of new products is not original research, but the marrying of two, or more, existing technologies to satisfy a new application.


1. Site accessed 3/25/05.
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