Right after we published this post, an interesting piece of news came across the wire. Sony has delayed the launch of its important new product, the PlayStation 3, by six months. That has to hurt!
Take a look at this article from the New York Times (PlayStation) and then consider the post below.
Here’s one of the best pieces of business advice I’ve ever received. It’s the concept of the “Barely Sufficient Product”.
At first, the notion of bringing a barely sufficient product to market grates against everything we hold dear. We want to create wonderful, brilliant, world-changing products. And when we launch a new product, we want it to be the epitome of excellence. So, imagine my shock when a respected product development expert told me to focus on delivering a “barely sufficient product”. As I have considered his advice, I realized that it is a simple and powerful concept.
The consultant who gave me this advice was Frank Robinson of Santa Barbara. He drove the creation of several successful software products and sold a company to Intuit. Here’s his logic. If your product is insufficient (doesn’t meet the customer’s needs) you’ll fail. No shock. However his insight was that by going for the perfect, outstanding, amazing product you put your company at almost as much risk. Every day that you don’t ship your product you incur costs and leave the door open for your competitors. If your product is good today–the thinking goes– it will be better tomorrow and even better the day after that. At that rate, you’ll have a wonderful product that will never ship.
Frank’s advice is that you need to define the minimum specs for a product that your customer will actually buy and then drive as hard as you can to get that product to market. You can always improve your product on the second and third rev–if you get the first product successfully launched. To that I can only say “Amen!!”.