What is the cutting edge of technology?

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This simple question can be answered in multiple ways depending on if you have an unrealized dream of creating the Next Big Thing, making your business run like a well-oiled machine with Best Industry Practices, or something quite different. 

I believe in both building dreams, and building well-run businesses.  And, these are not mutually exclusive concepts.  Generally, superb businesses these days don’t exist without an inspiring dream and technologies used to bring your customers, suppliers, investors and employees along for the ride toward that dream.  Superb businesses also don’t exist without simple, and effective systems and software that make the business hum along nicely.

So, how does a company balance pursuing the dream (i.e., the Next Big Thing) and delivering a predictably great product or service, and doing it profitably?  I believe the answer is quite simple…, if a little geeky:

>> Think Lean!

That is, paint a very simple picture for your customer of your product or service, and then deliver that quickly with the least possible frill and fluff.  Make your idea, product and/or service so intuitive and obvious to the user that it really requires little (or no) explanation so that they absolutely love it and must use it, and no other.  Demonstrate your credibility and that this is how you function: lean and to the point.

Even if your dream involves highly sophisticated software, APIs and integrated systems, don’t expose that internal “wiring” to your customer.  Who cares about the squirrels running side that make your product or service work, or that you have a space-age, curve-leaping nanotechnology?  Certainly not your customer.  Instead, your customer cares about what your product or service can do for them to solve their problems, and put a smile on their face.

By thinking lean, you are not only cutting the costs of releasing your product to market.  You are also ensuring loyal customers who will help the product or service leap off the shelf.  With such a product or service selling becomes almost an afterthought.  If you can get your customers to appreciate the simplicity and elegance of your product or service in solving a problem they face, your customers will also fall in love with you, too!

Important in this approach is to make sure your customers don’t have any fear that you have a separate agenda: something hidden in the dark that makes them fear they are being suckered into “Version 1.0” at little or no cost, so you can sell them “Version 2.0” at a high premium.  Rather, deliver value and focus on only delivering value.  People will always pay you for something that is valuable to them.  And, if they don’t or are not willing to pay you for that value, they are not really one of your customers anyway.

If your product or service IS valuable, albeit even quite simple, it will sell itself.  From there, your customers may want more and enhanced features.  That can come later, once you

have mastered the foundational offering.  Customers who love your product will stick with you at this point, even if you have some subsequent hiccups in product enhancement PROVIDED you make sure that you have listened to what they want and the value they require.

For more on lean product development and agile, look at some of our other posts and upcoming webinars and prior library of webinars.

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