Blog & Company News

May 27, 2011

How Realistic Is Your Product Assessment?

[caption id="attachment_393" align="alignright" width="350" caption="Realistic Product Assessment"][/caption] One of the most grating tactics used in interpersonal communication is the pre-emptive disclosure of one’s relationship status. Imagine this exchange between a woman and a man: Woman: “Do you know where the bathroom is?” Man: “No. But my wife likes bathrooms.” In the eyes of the man who drops the “wife bomb” (or the woman who mentions her boyfriend before she takes her next breath), he (or she) is letting anyone within earshot know that he (or she) is taken. In the eyes of the person upon whom the “wife” (or “boyfriend”) bomb is dropped, the bomb-dropper appears full of himself (or herself). Braggadocio is not limited to the interpersonal sphere. It can be a business killer. How about you, small-business owner? Do you have an aggrandized view of the product you’re developing or selling? Do you drop the “widget bomb” on people before having completed a sober assessment? If you overestimate the merits of your widget to friends, they may roll their eyes. If you overestimate the merits of your widget in an advertisement, you may hear from the Federal Trade Commission.1 If you overestimate the merits of your widget and somebody gets injured, you will hear from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.2 The CPSC recently released a recall for something that should have been called the What Could Possibly Go Wrong?TM ball. It’s basically a giant plastic bubble that a person crawls into. Then the person floats in the ball on top of a swimming pool or other body of water. One thing. “The fact that the product has no emergency exit and can be opened only by a person outside of the ball significantly heightens the risk of injury or death when a person inside the ball experiences distress,” according to the CPSC press release. Failures are inevitable and it’s likely that you, like Thomas Edison, will find "10 thousand ways that didn’t work" before you nail down your product. But there is a clear difference between persistence and arrogance. In your quest to create a great product, in addition to complying with all safety standards, make sure you maintain a thorough checks-and-balances system. And make sure that—no matter how much it may challenge your opinion of yourself—you are open to hearing hard truths. For more information, visit: 1. Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Division of Advertising Services 2. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission 3. International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization