Unite the Tribes Excerpts

Leadership skills for technology managers

Avoid Cleverness That Brings No Benefits


If you want your company to succeed, focus on developing benefits that your market will want to pay for

Those of us in the tech biz are clever people. That's a problem. I've seen a great many projects and companies fail over the years. Surprisingly, the best and the brightest are often the ones who guarantee that a company will drop dead within a year.

No one is as easily fascinated with the tools of the trade as we are, and it causes untold trouble. While the owner of the company is concerned with all those pesky things like merchandise cost, market share and net profits, creative creatures such as techies get caught up in the notion that their project is what's important.

If you've ever met a software developer or hardware engineer, this needs little explanation. They're so immersed in doing something cool that they often lose sight of the more important matter. Will anyone pay for this thing?

Untold thousands of dollars, millions more likely, are wasted each year on product development because of this very thing. The people involved in the project get caught up in the cleverness of what they're doing, what technologies and design philosophies they're using and a host of similar issues that causes delay after delay. At the risk of being burned at the stake as a heretic, I have to state the obvious. Your customers couldn't possibly care less.

If you want your company to succeed, focus on developing benefits that your market will want to pay for. The iPhone didn't sell because it was clever. It sold because Apple transformed a mobile phone into a portable computer. That offered a great many benefits and people stood in line to throw money at the company.

Provide value, not cleverness. If you think the coolness of your creativity should matter more than what helps the marketing department, sell your computer and learn to play guitar. Your perspective won't be any more valid in the world of bands and bars, but you might meet someone cute in the process. At the very least, you won't be in our way anymore.

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