Skip to main content

Edition 386 – Killing The Product

If any business owner wants a live study in how to kill a successful product, just take a look at Supercars in Australia right now.

The evolution to the new Gen 3 cars has been an unmitigated disaster. Brought about as a result of the changing motor vehicle market in Australia and, in particular, the death of Holden, it was 3 years in the making. Whilst you could argue that COVID impacted the rollout of the “new and improved” product, the fact remains that if you’re launching something new, tweaking it less than 36 hours before its first race, as a result of disquiet amongst the competitors, was an early warning sign that 2023 was going to be a mess.

In essence, you have one camp arguing about aerodynamic and mechanical parity. Parts have failed, predominately, on that camp’s vehicles and, somewhat concerningly, a number of fires, mid-race, have occurred in some of that camp’s vehicles this year, placing the drivers at serious risk of injury and even long term health concerns.

The way the rules of the sport are designed these days, there are standard components across all camps. So, for instance, the chassis is the same, even if the engines are different. It’s about making the product more affordable and the racing closer. Except, it’s failed on each of those two metrics.

I’ve followed motor sport my entire life. From laying on the floor as a 9 year old, watching the old Channel 7 coverage of Sunday afternoon racing at Sydney’s now, long lost, Amaroo Park, it’s been my sporting passion forever. But no longer. I’ve not watched a single race of the 2023 season and have passed up three opportunities to attend events in 2023, simply because, in my opinion, the sport can’t get it’s act together. That’s three revenue earning opportunities the sport has lost out on – so far.

So, what’s the lesson for small and family businesses I hear you ask. Well:

  1. Always remember – under-promise and over-deliver.
  2. If you’re bringing a new product to market, test it to within an inch of its life before releasing it.
  3. If your beta testing is exposing issues to the point where a group of clients indicate a major concern with the new product, don’t ignore their concerns. Ask them, “what are we missing that you’re seeing?”
  4. Bring in experts, independent of your organisation, to help you iron out any issues. If you’re only talking with each other inside the business, you’re not inviting critical analysis and advice. You’re creating your own echo chamber.
  5. Listen to what your client base are saying about what is working, and what isn’t.
  6. If any new product release is going pear shaped, slow it down, analyse the issues and, potentially, park it until you have ironed out the bugs.

My guess is that by year’s end, Ford Performance will have either pulled the plug on their formal participation in the series, or at the least, seriously curtailed their financial investment. If that happens, the sport is finished. Not only will the product have failed, but so will the business.

For some people, it may simply be sport. For others, it’s a passion. For others still, it’s their livelihood and their life’s work. Yet, how often have you seen a business over the years, seemingly release the next big thing, to either no longer be there, or be a pale comparison of their former self, before too long?

This Week’s Tip

Sport presents many case studies of both success and failure, that apply to business.