Punish Short-Corders!

cinamon-coffee-cake-350 Cup-Of-Coffee-X-350

Cinnamon Coffee Cake With No Coffee (Because the Coffeepot Cord Won’t Reach)

Here’s a great recipe for cinnamon coffee cake with almonds:

Is Your Cord Too Short?

Does your product or service really work as intended and as advertised? Are your customers struggling with how you designed, how you deliver, or how they interface with your product or service? Is your product or service efficiently and effectively configured for the people who actually use it? What if a minor, cheap improvement in your product or service allows you to charge more while pleasing all your customers?

These are highly relevant questions which directly impact whether your business will make money or lose money. Think carefully and read on.

If your product manual is 500 pages long and written in every language except English then your cord is too short.

If customers need crowbars and high explosives to remove your products’ packaging then your cord is too short.

If frustrated and confused customers call you for help and are dumped on hold, treated discourteously, or transferred to a call center staffed by low-paid chimpanzees then your cord is (indeed) too short.

Once a customer has purchased your product or service half the battle for your business to succeed is over: you have persuaded the customer to buy what you sell. The other half of the battle, which is even more important, is to deliver on the promises your product or service makes to the customer. It doesn’t matter if these promises are spoken out loud by your company salespeople, declared on product packaging, or generally expected by the customer. The logic of the marketplace is brutally simple for those who play the game in the long run: perform or fail.

Pain Is Good: Advantages of Beta Testing and Devil’s Advocates

A company run by yes-men and yes-women won’t last long: they will all agree to jump off a cliff together while holding hands. When it comes to offering a new product or service you need to expect, plan for, and manage effectively the conflict and adversity such a task imposes. Things and people will go wrong. The unexpected can and will happen. Difficulties you never dreamed of will arise and become compelling.

You will begin the task of launching a new product or service by imagining that all your company has to do is proceed in a single step from Point A to Point Z. But then you will discover that before you can get to point Z you first have to get to Point K. Then you’ll find out that it’s impossible to get to Point K unless you go to Point G after going to Point F. Murphy’s Law says it succinctly:

If something can go wrong, it will, given sufficient time.

Make sure your budget includes an adequate provision for Murphy’s Law. Plan, think ahead, and learn from the experiences and failures of others. In some form or other what you are trying to do has probably been attempted by others. We live in a world of over 7 billion people with 5,000 years of recorded history. The internet offers vast resources and learning experiences: use them! Short-cording is, really, a failure to visualize how real customers use a product in the real world.

There is only one alternative to the wise approach of learning from the failures and experiences of others:

Experience is a hard teacher, but fools will have no other.

Benjamin Franklin

Before a new product or service is offered to the market it’s a really good idea to test it out thoroughly. Software companies routinely offer ‘beta’ versions of their software. Customers who try the beta version know it’s new, know it may have bugs and problems, and adjust their expectations accordingly. Their insights and experiences are absorbed and reflected in improved software (hopefully).

A Devil’s Advocate performs a similar, in-house role to that performed by the small group of test customers who work with a beta version of a product or service. Devil’s Advocates consider all the nightmare scenarios, the pathways to failure, the hidden blind spots, and the “unknown unknowns” which routinely affect new products and services.

Engineers know that the strongest bridge in the world is conceived and built by systematically considering all the ways the bridge could fail, and then adjusting the design as needed to prevent these pathways to failure. It’s natural and human to be proud of your new product or service. But as is the case with bridges or any other new product or service “pride goeth before a fall.” Replace pride with practicality.

While no one is perfect, considering the experiences of in-house critics and customers who test a beta version of your new product or service will go a very long ways (pun intended) towards eliminating short-cording. The terse truth is that short-corders punish themselves.



George Adams
Certified Public Accountant Master of Business Administration
Tel: (207) 989-2700 E-Mail: GeorgeAdams@IntelligenceForRent.com
450 South Main Street: The HQ of IQ
Brewer, Maine 04412-2339

©2015 Copyright George Adams CPA MBA. All Rights Reserved.