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Just caught this great article in the Economist about when products flop (fail spectacularly) in the market. This is on the heels of the most recent flop courtesy of the good folks at Disney Films, John Carter. $300M in $30M out. Ouch! Even for a company as large as Disney that one hurts.
One point the article makes is that in business, occasional flops walk hand in hand with successful products. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as it were. It's true that sometimes it takes a big risk to make a big hit. Still I wouldn't want to be the producer of the John Carter movie right about now. He just blew $300M; let another guy make that mistake.
So as product owners or aspiring product owners, what can we do to ensure you are not "that guy or gal"? Regular readers of our blog know that we advocate businesses take stock of their product planning function since that is supposed to be where flops are avoided. You may not like what you see. In many businesses we meet product planning is akin to supervised chaos.
If you fall into this category, then consider undertake an effort to modernize product planning. What does it mean to "modernize", you ask? Well first off realize that for most large businesses, product planning is an information management game. The market impact a product will make is proportional to how well the business collects, organizes, prioritizes, communicates and otherwise manages its information in this area (and keeps an eye on development as they are working). Those features that got "accidentally" left out of the last release? Well that was tied to a couple million in business that will go to the competition. Oh well…
But admission of a problem is, as they say, only first step. Modernizing means eliminating the information silos that inhibit collaboration and visibility as well as standardizing practices with regards to communications and methods. Doing these can help you avoid a flop in your career.