QTA Consultant, Sal Mohammed, talks about the importance of all businesses emulating the operational rigour present in Corporate product launches.
After leaving my job, one of the most common questions i’ve had is ‘oh wow, you must be under so much pressure?’. Naturally, I reply with a well mannered, ‘yes of course, but all things worth doing come with pressure i guess’. What i really want to say is ‘no, no more than I usually feel’.
This isn’t due to some misplaced sense of confidence but rather the realisation that pressure within companies can be equally as daunting. I’ve spent the last few years of my life launching products and partnerships at Google and Telefonica which has given me an appreciation for the focus required from big companies to make the right moves when the whole world relies on your products.
Perhaps no better example of what’s at stake is the Snapchat redesign, with over 1m users signing a petition to revert to the previous version.
The proud peacock of today may be only a feather duster tomorrow
99.9% isn’t good enough
The world’s leading companies are forever in the spotlight, and when you’re in the spotlight good enough is rarely good enough. Everything has to be perfect if you want to succeed in launching things customers will love.
I’ll never forget a conversation with a former boss asking if I thought the service we had developed was ready to ship, to which I replied ‘yes, i’m 99.9% sure’.
He said, ‘Sal, 99.9% means that 1 in a 1000 customers gets a shitty experience. Would you get on a plane if you knew 1 in a 1000 would crash? Come back to me when you’re at 100%’.
At the time, I thought he was being pedantic, but now I get it, one public mistake and your company can be relegated to the past tense. You have to keep the pressure on yourself to constantly deliver for your customers as their loyalty cannot be guaranteed, or as Rick Barnes puts it, “the proud peacock of today may be only a feather duster tomorrow”.
There’s very little help for businesses to know what a world class product launch looks like
All businesses should have that level of pressure
What I found when scouring thousands of businesses, was often the opposite. With very few eyes on them, vague and unstable products and services are common place. This is by no means to suggest most businesses aren’t under immense pressure or don’t care about what they build, but rather, what I believe to be 2 main forces at play:
Launch now, fix later approach
Most businesses seem to start life with the plan to get something out to market before they run out of cash and then perfect later. This isn’t necessarily a bad strategy. Even Linkedin founder, Reid Hoffman proclaims “if you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late”.
However the problem I found is that as growth kicks in, companies are often not properly prepared for the ramp up, and are far too inundated with new problems to return to perfecting the product. I liken this to a restaurant putting together an Ikea table. You loosely fasten the screws and then tighten once all the pieces are together. Except most businesses seat customers before they get the chance to tighten the table.
A knowledge gap
There’s very little help for businesses to know what a world class product launch looks like. Companies that launch great products are hardly on a megaphone telling everyone else how to do the same.
All in, all the time
Since hearing those words from my former manager, less than 100% readiness wasn’t an option for me. I would start every partnership kick off by saying “Everyone let’s be clear. This is the moon landing. We have to launch like the whole world is watching!
When we showed partners insights on financials, media and technology I was amazed at how quick companies could execute changes. Here we caught a thought, if only more businesses had the rigour and tactics large companies enjoy, and yet weren’t weighed down with with the bureaucracy and approvals required in big organisations.
Turns out they grow fast. Frighteningly fast.
This drove me towards joining QTA (Quick To Act), an acceleration consultancy where we hand over the expertise of the world’s best companies over to growth hungry businesses keen to get it right! Without all the jargon and double talk.
There’s a lot of pressure for us to get it right, but also with the knowledge that pressure really does make diamonds. Pressure makes great products. Pressure is a privilege!