Tales of a PO: Week 5 – Band-Aids

How did the telephone get traction?

Seriously. I thought of this while watching Downton Abbey with my wife. I know…but it’s pretty good.


They install a telephone and the younger generation is completely taken by it, but the older sir’s and madam’s are unsure of it. They just didn’t get how it could be used, but there is one comment that I thought was interesting.

“Who are we going to call if nobody we know has one?”

Yeah, who would they call?  When you’re trying to grow users in a social way, how do you grow your early-adopters? The first installs of the phone weren’t cheap either. Lines were not run, there was no wireless. There was also stiff competition: telegraph, couriers, and letters. These are people that are set in their ways.

So how do you spur traction? On Quora, http://www.quora.com/How-did-the-telephone-gain-initial-traction, it’s a pretty simple answer: they sold to businesses first.

They found their true early adopter. Businesses make money by being ahead of the game and information is money. The person who receives information faster makes more money. They found a pain, and they solved it. The phone first spread in large cities, then the high-class began installing, and then they told two friends…and so …and so on.

You have to find the people you are really solving problems for, the rest will follow.

The moral of the story for this weeks PO lesson is: business problems are business problems no matter what time period you’re in.  If you’re not selling band-aids to the people who bleed then you’re the one that’s going to run out of life. Solve real problems for people and others will find cool uses for the same technology.

Architecture In Helsinki – Heart It Races


“and we’re slow to acknowledge the knots in our laces”