Here at Newry, we spend a lot of time doing heavy-duty analysis on our clients’ behalf. And for good reason: the ramifications of a failed product launch can be disastrous. But important as diligence is, we also believe that there is such a thing as overthinking it. Rigor is admirable, but when it causes innovative companies to miss out on good opportunities because they are too busy doing laborious assessments to take action, that’s a problem. So, how should a company know when the time is right to stop sizing the market and take the plunge?
For companies who already have interested customers waiting in the wings, the answer is simple: Do it right now.
As my colleagues have mentioned in previous blogs, understanding customer needs and requirements are paramount to developing a successful product. Many products fail because companies are creating for themselves, rather than for their customers. However, some ultra-conscientious companies go too far in the opposite direction and, in doing so, encounter a whole new set of challenges. These companies receive clear confirmation of market interest early in the product development process; some even find crystallizing customers. And yet, they do not act. They iterate. They design. They analyze the opportunity to death. And when their competitors sense this hesitation (paralysis by analysis) and provide their own first-to-market products, they lose out.
In many cases, the hastily introduced competitive offering is second-rate – but guess what? It doesn’t matter! The mere presence of a commercial option often incites those initial customers to defect to the new alternative. For example, one of our recent clients had an excellent idea for a novel medical device with clear market pull, but held off on releasing a commercial version and focused instead on perfecting the product. During this time, a competitor came in with an admittedly inferior product, but managed to wrestle away multiple customers, creating an uphill challenge for our client from the get-go.
There is such a thing as overthinking it. Paralysis by analysis is very real.
While analysis is critical, knowing when to stop analyzing is often just as important. Companies these days are under immense pressure to deliver high-quality products, and so, understandably, they tend to strive for perfection. But here’s the thing: it’s almost impossible to create a perfect product right away. What’s more, it’s usually not worth the effort to try, especially when a first pass will do just fine. The very first iPhone, for example, didn’t have many of the features that we take for granted these days – multimedia messaging, the app store, 3G connectivity, etc. – and yet the innovative nature of the product created immediate widespread adoption and led to Apple’s resurgence as a technology power.
If companies have clear market interest, they need to move fast to create a first version of a product – even if it’s not perfect. Additional improvements can always occur after launch, but locking in initial customers is key to ensuring product success. If you have customers already lined up, go ahead and take the leap.