Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Measure Those Ideas!

"All of our customers want this product. You should see their eyes light up when we even hint about it."

"We have a great feature almost completed. We just incorporated it while we were working on the requirements. It'll cost a little bit more, but the customers will love it."

"This will put us WAY ahead of all of our competitors. They probably haven't even thought of it yet! It'll wow our customers the minute they get wind of it."

The first statement sounds positive. Customers' eyes lighting up isn't a bad thing. But if the product is to be really attractive, when it comes to purchasing time, we'll need a lot more than hints to confirm its viability.

The second declaration should scare us. We don't have time to create all the features that we know we require. How can we "just incorporate" something along the way. How much did THAT cost us? And then, how can we have a clue that the customers want the feature and even less that they would be inclined to pay extra for it. Ouch!

The third pronouncement has the cart so far ahead of the horse that it should leave us breathless. Maybe the potential customers WILL be breathless with the revelation of the new concept. But the development of products or features as "surprises" leaves a lot to chance. Perhaps on the other hand, WE will be surprised to "get wind of" the customers REAL preferences and expectations -- and of the achievements and insights of our competitors.

If only we had a master calibration tool of some kind, against which to measure our ideas BEFORE we start spending time and money on them ...