When developing a new product or adding features to an existing one, I believe one should go slow to go fast. What do I mean by that phrase?  Whether you are in a hyper-competitive marketplace or a slow growth one, there is typically pressure to release a new product, add features to an existing product, or reduce the cost of an existing product.  Whatever that pressure may be, I believe one should be methodical with product testing.  Part of being methodical means getting feedback from customers before releasing the new product / feature / change into full scale production.  Sometimes the downside of getting customer feedback is that one cannot proceed as fast as one would like.  Being methodical doesn’t mean people have to drag their feet.  But, if a company goes a little slow in the beginning (testing / product development)  they can then go very fast (full scale production  / roll out) afterwards.

One doesn’t have to look far to find examples of companies that have introduced new products / features to only recall them because they didn’t take the extra step of obtaining customer feedback.  For some reason, the example of the NBA introducing a new basketball  comes to mind:  http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/06/sports/basketball/06ball.html

I know from experience that it is not possible to anticipate or test all the potential issues that a product might incur.  Unanticipated product failures occur all of the time, even with the most diligent testing protocols, which might include customer testing.  The best companies I have worked with and for have always been good at incorporating customer testing / feedback to make sure a product dud wasn’t released to the field.  There will always be pressure to release new products / features as quickly as possible.  There is nothing wrong with organizational and competitive pressure to keep people motivated and focused on releasing new products.  Just remember, where possible, go slow to go fast and don’t forget to obtain customer feedback.

Feel free to share your thoughts.

Rindge Leaphart

http://www.linkedin.com/in/rindgeleaphart

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