I am always encouraged when writers can dig nuggets of truth out of other articles and interviews. What separates thought leaders from the rest is the ability to see what is just under the surface and apply it to their area of expertise. Such is the case with writer Kevin Ashton, and his Medium post on what made Steve Jobs great.
Of course, many have written about the former head of Cupertino and his genius. We didn’t need to be informed of that. Articles, books, and soon movies will be telling aspiring creators for years how awesome Jobs was. What I liked in particular about the post from Ashton was how a simple question can turn a good idea into great:
“Why doesn’t it work?”
Jobs was famous for asking this question about all products, including his. There is always something that can be refined to make something better. Often, this contradicts the stance companies have regarding their offerings that are “good enough.”
Not that they would ever admit that. They just don’t work on improving. My company was an industry leader several years ago, but that can only last for so long before competitors catch up and start to put pressure on you. While we still provide our customers an amazing suite of products, I am not talking out of school too much to admit we did not maintain our lead in some areas.
Catching up takes up a lot of energy. Regardless of the industry, most companies know what that feels like. Many who don’t have a mobile strategy in place should be feeling this strain right now.
When looking at your product line, don’t think of the things you like about it right now. That’s for the marketing department to discuss. Product people need to look at what’s wrong. Ashton’s equation of sales plus customers equaling nothing broken is really dangerous. You may have customers now, but your competitors are selling currently as well. Nothing being broken can turn into broke really fast.
Instead of waiting for that to happen, look for something to break on your own. Perhaps your platform needs to be re-written, but to do that means breaking it down and slowly building that up. Instead of being upset, your customers will applaud your desire to improve their experience or more easily add features.
When you let someone else help you realize your product is broken, it takes more energy to catch up than if you do it on your own. Go find something and break it.