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0⃣Little memory jog. Arriving at UofI in 1995, my first presentation (on a topic of my choosing) was about what I called "the wildcat approach to product development".

The talk was shaped by my experiences in R&D where betting on the wrong horse had become concerningly common.
1⃣The idea was that product development should be split into two very separate phases with very different skills sets, but that corporate research and development no longer captured these phases, largely bc they were disintegrated activities within firms.
2⃣I called the two phases "search" and "hunt". Search is a comparatively leisurely activity, the sit idly on knoll and scan the environment phase.

It is about identifying the right target, and about coming to a mutual understanding as to why it is the right target.
3⃣Bc the second phase, the hunt, has to work out in perfect sync. There should be no more disagreement on specs or on methods. There should be no more going back to searching.

Hunting the wrong target or hunting too slowly are both failure points exhausting important resources.
4⃣1995 was the birth of the dot-com boom, Illinois was the home of the web browser, and the campus was bustling with startuppy activities all trying to follow in Marc Andreesen's footsteps.

At that point I had spent all of two weeks yahoo-ing the Internet.
5⃣My main focus was, and to a certain extent still is, corporate R&D, and I would spend ten more years there, most in very early (10-30 years to market) tech research.

In the meantime startups, out of sheer necessity, have gotten much closer to working off such a model.
6⃣Startups can't afford to have separate R and D teams, so everyone needs to do everything to get a product to market.

Also early-stage startups should not engage in multi-year R or D projects. Verify that your go-to-market approach works first before you stretch out.
7⃣Especially tech startups tend to have enormous problems allocating the resources, attention, and skills to the market development counterpart of product development.

The result is usually cool technology but no market.
8⃣The main thing startups need to learn is to foster the two mindsets within the product team and draw a clear line when Search is over and the Hunt begins.

When you spend part of your development phase fine-tuning your "Agile" approach, it means you are too slow and unprepared.
9⃣Going back from hunt to search, which is all too common both in startup and corporate R&D, is hugely detrimental.

If there are clear indicators that a team is going wrong during the hunting phase, it is better to set up a new team to investigate the arising opportunity.
🔟With more fine-tuning of this idea I expect startup-based product development to eventually completely supplant corporate R&D.

As it is, corporates are already struggling to implement "startup-like" models in their innovation centers and digital labs.
🔢This thread was brought to you by the #BeigeAcademy of digging up stuff I thought about at the dawn of the Internet Age, and checking if they still make sense today.

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