Lessons in Product Development
In 1983 there was a classic John Hughes movie called “Mr. Mom” staring Michael Keaton. The movie is about a recently laid off dad who decides to stay at home and raise the kids while his wife accepts a new corporate job. I remember one scene vividly where he is talking about tackling a major home remodeling job he clearly has no idea what he’s doing while attempting to sound like he does. His wife’s new boss asks what type of wiring he plans to use in the new addition. “ Are you going to make it all 220 wiring?” Keaton responds, “220, 221. What ever it takes.” The joke is 220 refers to a standard voltage used in homes. 221 is not an option. Here is the scene. (Mr. Mom 220, 221 scene)
During the creation of a product, the process begins in a similar path to that of Michael Keaton. You think of various speculative concepts that make no sense under the current environment. Sometimes you can be dead wrong because you have no idea what you are doing. Occasionally with persistency and discovery, understanding begins to develop and the possibilities of how to bring the concept come to fruition. The notion is clear in your mind, yet the challenge remains how to bring it to realization. You may earn a few chuckles at your own expense that eventually become your earned stripes of accomplishment. Five years into the process, I have recognized product experience is gold with no substitute for it.
One area I have been optimistic yet consistently off the mark is the length of time to complete the mission at hand. Working with the engineers and suppliers to determine a date, we set a plan and deliverables and move forward. Like the game of whack-a-mole, things pop up and delay, delay, delay. Sending updates to customers with the belief the product will be ready by a certain date only to fall short is frustrating to say the least. I lament over having to do so however realize the importance of even bad news needing to be shared. The best advice I received was own it and move on with a plan to fix it.
Building a new company and creating a new brand in a massive bike industry can be a formidable task. Knowing there exists a multitude of manufacturing companies and millions of varying cyclists is exciting to be part of. Nikola entered the bike industry knowing we put smart people in the charge giving them time and resources to do it right. Yes it takes longer then most companies realize, but that comes with the territory. Search in Google “Apple production delays” and 658,000 hits are uncovered. I am sure they loathed each one but became a better company for it. Wonder if any of their delays was because they tried 221 wiring?