What we are after as entrepreneurs is a good product. A good product will drive your organization despite the field you are in. If you want to grow, you need to have a product which can be misused, misunderstand and still will perform as expected by the user. It is not a question how should you optimize current product, but rather where you should aim.
If you realize that you need a certain product that fills your need at first, and this is the product you are selling great. But if what you would like to sell and what you are actually selling is different, stop doing that. It is that simple. You cannot make a good sale from bad product.
The most important thing that this perspective is not about competitors or market share, but how much better you can be, efficient, more lean, more align. What is left when you take out your perception, functionality. What happens If your company will not be longer in the market, what legacy it will leave. Last week I have bought Nokia headset. I remembered from early days when these things cost a lot, were bulky and didn?t work very well. Now it is a different story. It is more than 10 years since first Bluetooth headset, technology is developed to a new stage. Everything looks different. Works different.
It is like with military clothes. They give you a baseline. They are extremely useful and very hard to destroy. Everything started when I have watched some apocalypse movie. When humanity was a risk and just a few people are left alive, there was no structure, no factories, no life as we know today, that everybody is always wearing military clothes. Then a few weeks later when watching ?Walking Dead?, I realized, hey they have military uniforms as well. And then I got this idea that maybe they are not just a few instances but rather a trend.
From where I?m coming from, from the eastern part of Poland, on the countryside, in small villages many men still have their own forests. They are taking care of them, and the same time taking care of the car, house, they are the handyman. If something needs to be build, they are doing by themselves. And they are mostly wearing Polish army clothes. They are hugely popular, they are so comfortable, resistible and safe to work, that is it hard to find a better alternative because so widely functional. If you go to local market, you always find few guys who are doing business on army surplus. There is no better way to cover the need for high-quality work clothes. If you start looking for a jacket with Gore-Tex membrane in hiking shop, it will cost you a fortune. Army jackets? Fancy materials like Gore-tex are used by the military for decades and cost almost nothing.
What is important about a product it a perception of expectation ? how it is framed ? brands. One of the best examples will be Levi?s and Land Rover. Every time you are buying a new pair of Levi?s jeans or rent a Land Rover for the expedition you have the same concept ? it is obvious that they will make a good job. We make one thing right it is to solve some kinda problem, to make a solution to somebody. By doing that you are creating the brand ? pattern recognition concept.
It is not only limited to the time when you are making the decision but as well after. Brands like Land Rover, they are the foundation in developing countries or the places where it is hard to get. When you expect to have trouble getting to your destination, the obvious choice is Land Rover.
Last year, when visiting Malaysian district of tea farms, I have seen the land lover all over the place. Land Rover was the obvious choice of the working people who were working on the hills, in hard to reach the shelf. Most of the cars were 20-30 years old, but their standardized structure made them easy for maintenance, and it made parts available and cheap. It is like closed circuit. You are good at something, so people are buying from you and that allow you to make investments and tackle next thing and successfully repeat the cycle.
The thing about the product development the is different sides to it. When you are creating something, putting so much energy into creating, what you really deeply care for. But at the end, the customer is responsible to really using it. We can give some guidelines how to best use it, but after all, they really know, they can sense. If some product can be misused, it is poorly design. If you need to supply a manual just to somebody understand how to use it, you did it wrong. The product should be integral in its use. You should feel what the next thing you should do. It should be possible without the maker.
The baseline is very much about how much you can let go. I?m writing this I?m thinking about how you can mistreat army clothes. When instead of special treatment you are using it as a normal piece of everyday clothes. If you wash your Goretex jacket with normal clothes, iron it, and they still work as new. When you are using it every day for years and it is in its best state. Somebody design this piece and it is rising to its standards. It cost almost nothing, but it is so perfect that beats everything. It is indestructible. For example take OLFA knives with disposable blades. They cost very little 2-3$ and still if you just do not lose them you will have them for years. I bought my one 6 years ago, and I have still had it despite everyday use. This is kind of investments I?m looking for.
At the same time, there is the funny thing. The baseline is invisible. The thousands of employees of Land Rover, military clothes manufacturer or Nokia employees will not hear this stories. Yes, maybe few at the top. But most of them will not realize how good they are. This concept need to be found, make it visible. This is not something you encounter at everyday work. When you are making good tools at the factory, better that you will not have contact with clients who are buying these things.
The only person who is able to see how these things are working is the bystander. When you do not have involvement in how things will play out in any way ? good or bad ? your judgment is impaired. You can see the structures to the organizations, the situation in the much more perspective way. It is extremely important to realize when you are doing business or planning you will just miss this thing, not see them but exploit them. By this, we need to remember that customers will have completely different perception and usage of the product. When we are creating something, we hope that we will have some influence over what is happening. But something like caring is hardly transferable through the product. Product live in its own life.