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Moores Chasm and internal Strategic Selling

Leading change

28.1.2013 — You may forget the laws of internal marketing, but they will not forget you. Lessons from Moore's Chasm and Strategic Selling.

Moores Chasm and internal Strategic Selling
Ari Tikka
Ari TikkaFounding Partner

You may forget the internal marketing, but it will not forget you. Crossing the Chasm is the marketing pattern coined Geoffrey A. Moore. It has had a significant and lasting impact on high tech entrepreneurship. Sometimes said it is “still the bible for entrepreneurial marketing 15 years later”. Wiki has some background.

In our experience the Chasm is relevant in any organizational transformation. However, there are two significant differences.

  1. A company needs to work as a system, unlike the open market.
  2. The market is limited. In small companies the market is very limited, but even there some individuals will be the Early Adopters and some will play the role of the Pragmatists.

When driving the transformation, you first need to succeed in the early market.

  • Learn radically, beyond what you expected. Experiment. Unlearn the old habits. Get all external experience that you can. Study carefully the local realities and combine with the external wisdom.
  • Build the network. You will need all good contacts. You need to know the skeptics, because they will criticize. You need advice, sponsoring and likings.
  • The experiences of success build the evidence and energy.

Then the game will change, and the new technology or culture needs to cross the chasm. The Pragmatists expect referrals from other Pragmatists. For them the Enthusiasts and Visionaries are unreliable. Here you have more characteristics collected from different sources:

Early Adopters Mainstream
Enthusiast, Visionaries, Early adopters Pragmatists, (Conservatives, Skeptics)
Want technology and performance Want solutions and convenience
Experiment. Build ”state-of-the-art” from the ground up Use proven applications. Want the”industry standard”
Proponents of revolutionary change Proponents of evolutionary change
Project oriented Process oriented
Take risk Avoid risk
Discount other’s experience Value reference highly
Define the future Worry about today
Are quickly moving to the next big thing. Get left cleaning up the practical mess.

This cultural difference will manifest at the boundaries of the early experiences of success. It is even stronger, if the boundary is between established subcultures, for example the techies and the business people. We have witnessed these conflicts in several companies. And it is not only because people think differently. There are real incompatibilities and conflicting business interests at these boundaries.

The lesson from the Strategic Marketing as coined and productised by Heiman & Miller has the following advice:

You need to sell the new idea to three different roles in the organisation:

  • The economical buyer. They sit on the money and potentially sponsor your ideas. They will ask a second opinion from their trusted advisors of the other roles.
  • The Specialist Buyer. These are key middle managers, architects, system specialists, and so on. They know how the organisation runs currently. Most probably your idea conflicts with their current view of the world, and still you need to get their OK at least for an experiment.
  • The User Buyer. They will be using the new thing in actual productive work. If their work is not improving, the change will not last the day-to-day reality.

If any of these roles is unwilling, there will not be enough support.

In marketing, successfully crossing the chasm is the wet dream. It means scaled business, the Tornado. In transformations it means irreversible change of the culture, in the whole company. But it is not only about marketing. How do you scale the transformation - provide enough support for the mainstream?


More psychological concepts for coaches and leaders.

Ari Tikka
Founding Partner

Before finding Agile, Ari built software for embedded distributed fault tolerant software for seven years. For the next decade he worked as an organizational therapist with cultural change, teamwork and leadership. Since 2006 he has contributed to LeSS-flavoured Agile transformations including mechanical engineering, market automation, and embedded system development. For the last couple of years Ari had international coaching assignments ranging from teams to board.

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