First of all I have to stay that this week totally stank. It stank like a poopy diaper, like a bag full of used hockey equipment, like a movie with John Travolta that isn’t Pulp Fiction. Yes people this week was *that* bad.
One of the reasons this week was so darn smelly was that one of the really promising products that I am working on has been suddenly besieged by “helpful” folks that haven’t had much experience with new product introduction. This got me thinking of all ways that a great product could be managed right into non-existence and I give you this:
Killing a Killer Product in 5 Easy Steps
- Remove the Passionate Leaders and Replace Them with “Professional Management” - People that drive new products to market aren’t like the professional managers you know. They’re nuts. They are so personally invested in their product they make Steve Jobs look uncommitted to Apple. They will get past any roadblock and solve any problem. They are changing the world. They might not be the right folks to grow it past $20M or $100M revenue but replace them too soon and what do you get? You get an organization driven by someone who sees the product as nothing more than a step on his/her personal career ladder. Will they fight your CEO when he makes a bad call? Will they be at the office at midnight on Saturday elbow to elbow with the rest of the team getting product out the door? Will they personally concern themselves with all of the stupid piddling little details necessary to get the first 5 customers up and running and happy? Maybe. And maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow in Ponyville and my name will be Sparkleworks. Hey, it *could* happen.
- Give it a Completely Unrealistic Revenue Target - This is a very easy way to kill a great product. Take something that is released this year and give it a $100 million target for next year. By next summer everyone will decide it is a complete failure, just in time for fall restructuring. Who knew murder could be so easy!
- Assign only Junior Level Marketing Support that Reports Somewhere else in the Organization – I will bet Joey in corporate marketing can build you a brochure but don’t expect him to give a decent product demo or develop a relationship with an industry analyst or produce decent messaging or even show up to a meeting when his boss assigns him to work “part-time” on something else. That stuff wasn’t important anyway, was it?
- Under-Staff to Make the Business Case Look Better – Ah life is so simple when you just look at the finances. This product doesn’t need 2 years to be cash-positive! Look I just reduced the number of people in development from 12 to 6 and presto! Cash positive in 6 months! That means we’re successful, right? Right?
- Give it To A Sales Force that Has Never Sold Anything Like it Before – Selling a software solution? Give it to some folks that sell hardware. Do you have a direct sales model? Try giving that one to some folks that are used to mainly managing sales through the channel. The target buyer for your product is the C-Suite? Give it to a bunch of sales people that have only sold to first-line IT managers. Hey those folks are smart, they’ll figure it out as they go along.
I hope this doesn’t happen to any of the products I’m working on currently. I’m an optimist.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get to bed early because I’m hoping to take a trip to Ponyville tomorrow morning.