We can spend a week of Sundays discussing the original, or the often misunderstood, interpretation of Occam’s Razor. Most often, it is assumed the least amount of assumptions leads to the simplest solution. Or, in other words, the simplest solution may very-well be the best solution. There are certainly some risks in various medical or astrogeophysical hypotheses – if one looks for the least complicated solution too quickly. However, in general business situations Occam’s Razor can be quite applicable.
All too often, innovative products and services never make it to the customer because a minority (most often a single person) is motivated to perfect the assumptions that support the product or service’s projected performance or ROI. I’ve personally witnessed projects that could have yielded hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual profit, stopped in their tracks over simple, irrelevant assumptions, that did nothing more than split hairs (or pennies). And, in the end, the project was terminated.
The point is simple. If you have an opportunity to deploy a product, process, or a system – and it is capable of providing 80% to 85% of the designed features (without compromising security or financial safety) – get it going. Please – just give it a try. You can spend an enormous amount of time and money perfecting the few features that – frankly – your customers or end users don’t really care much about. Build your products for the customer, not your executive team. (Who, unfortunately, probably won’t use the products anyway. But, that’s a story for another day, when we discuss company loyalty.)
So, what did we learn? Identify your idea and make it happen. Even if you stumble a bit – and you probably will – being “first to market” equates to a priceless competitive advantage. Think of how many companies drive their product’s ecospace – just because they were first to market. Did Apple quit after the Netwon (Which, by the way, I still have in my cabinet)? There were many varieties of touchscreen PDAs in between the Newton and the iPad. But, who was first to market – without fear of failure? Are you willing to set you corporate ego aside and give it a try? If not, you might want to re-evaluate the paradigm of your executive team.
This is a century’s old lesson we can apply to new product/service development, as well as deploying a quality culture.
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