It’s Never About Having the Best Product… or Is It?
by Arnaud Henneville, Nov 8 2016
“It’s never about the best product, and always about the strategy”. Indeed, it’s always about searching for the best strategy to deliver a cohesive, well defined product.
Well, while this is largely accepted, our work with some of the most celebrated companies in the world has uncovered that the opposite is also true. In other words, that it is always about searching for the best product to execute on a well-defined strategy.
That makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? The question is: What is a ‘best product’?
It’s never about the best product, and always about the strategy.
Customized Product, Best Product
When searching for the best product-strategy fit, one basically only has two alternatives. The product can either be ‘off-the-shelf’ (i.e. a one-size-fits-all) or it can be customized. Of course, the higher the degree of customization, the higher the likelihood of that product being very close to the best product-to-market fit there can be. Initially, any customized product has a near-to-perfect fit with the job it is meant to do. That’s why, if we see the value for it, we tend to buy the customized product over the one-size-fits-all.
Now the problem is that even the customized product has a short-lived competitive advantage over the off-the-shelf one. Undeniably, if a product is supposed to fix a well-defined problem today, how could the very same product possibly resolve a totally new and different problem tomorrow? This is literally impossible, isn’t it?
The fact is, it is assumed that an online communication platform shall forever address all communication, collaboration, and change challenges. Let me illustrate with a practical case why this reasoning is simply flawed in this day and age.
A global manufacturer had successfully launched its platform. The product was customized to their very needs and all seemed well. And all was well; employees’ engagement on the tool was remarkable – people were collaborating daily across geographies, they were sharing ideas, they were helping one another to accelerate their business.
But, as one would expect, over a twelve-month period the business itself dramatically morphed thanks to the various forces brought by the changes in the environment. For example, the strategy that was being pursued for one entire market had to be abandoned due to lack of tangible results on the ground. This had tremendous implications throughout the business, from the redefinition of certain job-roles to the tweaks-needed to the go-to-market model, the offer had to be repositioned internally to ensure that front-line employees would remain equipped with the best possible knowledge and tools to execute on the new plan.
As we all appreciate, this is a normal sequence of events for any business, change just happens. That prompts the question: why should internal communications and collaboration platforms not evolve when everything else does? Clearly, in the fast moving world we live in, if a company can at best be in synch with yesterday, it will forever play catch-up.