If you need to create outstanding products, certain things cannot be compromised: design, customer orientation and quality of effort.
Pretty simple I guess. “Outstanding” products “stand out” because they have an excellent design and they empower the customer/client to solve their problems. These things result from the quality of thinking and amount of effort put in by the product management team. Then, what should be the first step towards creating an outstanding product? Hire outstanding people.
Something that we can all learn from Steve Jobs is obsession with quality and design. For creating excellent products, we need to ensure quality at all levels and in all components of the product. Across the process of product creation then, we need people who can take the responsibility of quality. The team needs to be passionate about quality and willing to put in effort that delivers an excellent output. I am sure that Apple’s recruitment department ensures that they hire the best.
A chain is as strong as its weakest link. So, the quality in each individual’s contribution should not only be existent but also consistent. That way, one can hope of making the product great on all fronts.
Excellence – that’s what customer pay a premium for.
If the quality of deliverable is what matters the most, the people behind it also matter the most. If remarkable results are expected, then work should never be given to mediocre individuals, since that would defeat the purpose of seeking excellence.
One sign of mediocrity is offering excuses. Such people will accuse you of being a perfectionist and say that perfectionist attitude will cause delays. Smile at them and call them defeatists for they have already accepted that perfection cannot be achieved and hence not worth chasing. If they work with that attitude, excellent products will never come out. (As for delays, there are other methods to avoid that.)
If you aren’t chasing excellence, whatever you are doing is not worth doing. Gone are the days when crap was shipped out under the premise of meeting deadlines. The customers are more intolerant and demanding than ever.
Imagine a software product that will be used by global marketing directors of multi-billion dollar global corporations. Such people are very likely high flyers, members of the board, hold international MBAs and PhDs and control profit centers of large geographic regions. Should such a software product be created by anyone with lesser credentials? For instance, will simple graduates with average academic record, low global exposure, not-so-great communication skills and low ambition, do a good job here? Very unlikely!
The point being made here is: Is it important to understand how the client/customers think. Having someone in the product design team who is also a part that network will offer a clear perspective of how the target customers think. Putting yourself in the clients’ shoes (cliche but conveys the point) helps.
What happens in the market post product launch is not entirely in our hands. It may happen that the product will not fly; there may be other factors that will influence how it will be received by the market, such as competitive threat, new developments, regulatory change etc.
But one thing is certain, low quality of effort and lack of thinking are not acceptable. A low quality team won’t do.
(Note – These are my personal views and they do not represent the views of my employer or for that matter, any company, organization, individual, commercial or non-commercial entity.)