Don’t have an idea; have a general direction, a broad, open question
Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Demand Horizon & Search Expert
Demand now drives supply.
With demand in charge, products are assembled upon request.
Vision, patience, and execution are the wrong approach; there must be demand.
Lesson: Demand Horizon with Gerry Campbell
Step #3 The Solution: Don’t have an idea; have a general direction, a broad, open question
Back in the time when it was really hard to make cars, Henry Ford could say you can have any car you want, and you can have any color you want as long as it's a model T and its black, right? That's when supply was in charge. Now, what we have is with demand in charge, essentially it's easy for software to be assembled. If somebody wants to create an app, they go and grab the iOS or the Android Toolkit to then create the app. They take that, and they hook up to cloud services on the back end that hosts the Database and do X, and Y, and Z.
So if I'm going to create a piece of software, all of the pieces are there for me to create the supply, to create a product or for me to build a product. That's true about software, it's true about hardware, it's true about most anything you can imagine in this world, and if it hasn't already been virtualized, it's soon to be, and I'll give you a concreting example.
Somebody I know in India, they ran Whirlpool. When they shifted over to a virtual supply chain, and what that meant is that they would say I need 400 compressors in a week, and they would allow people to compete to do that. They were able to build unlimited washers, dryers, bathtubs, refrigerators, very quickly, and distributed them on demand. So essentially, the supply of washers and dryers is just as easy to create as it is a piece of software. So supply is easy, now what happens is the demand is what drives it.
I want to tell you about a failure first. The Surface, who's got a Surface? Microsoft Surface tablet, yeah. Nobody does. Nobody has them. They spend a billion dollars on Surface One and then nobody bought them, so they came out with Surface Two which apparently is going to be better.
Ballmer completely, I don't mean to knock the guy. I actually hear from people who know him that he is a fantastic guy. But I'm going to knock his business tactics. His approach, and he stated when it came to, I think it was actually the Surface. He talked about it. He said, "There are three stages to launching a new product. There's vision, patience and execution." He says, "I see something. I wait for people to figure out how stinking brilliant I am and then I drive it home." That's exactly what's not right.
The old model, no more push. Anybody with a vision, when people come to me saying, "I have this vision for a great product." I say, "I don't know what to do with that because you're not going to listen to me." My consulting company Frequency Group, we were hired by a company that was founded by one of, if not the most iconic startup guy on the planet and there was a product that they wanted us to test and validate in the market and the answer was, "Nobody wants it." And he said, "Yeah but it's so awesome." So we parted ways because you can't push. By the way the product is failing.
There are a lot of methodologies out there that are a step in the right direction. Come up with an idea and validate the people who want your idea. The twist that we are putting on this is if you don't have an idea, have a general direction you'd like to go. I love things that are useful to families.
So my company spent some time working with a big company trying to help them figure out what's going to be most useful for families, broad open question. And what came out of it, is going to be a freaking awesome product that's going to launch in January, and I'm really excited about it, and I can't tell you about it. But, it's starting with finding the idea and the discovery process.