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Now we can – but are we ready?

Posted by Anders Northeved on February 19, 2011

I will admit it – I’m a gadget and “new thing freak”.

If anything new is better, cooler … or just nearly as good compared to what I have, I have no problem convincing myself, my wallet and my surroundings that I simply MUST have it.

But not everyone is like this (probably a good thing) – and all of us working with developing new things; making existing products better; changing organizations or managing a group of people should be very aware of this!

Often when a new product or a new way of doing things becomes a success, we think it is because we are now able to do it from a technical or theoretical perspective.

But things only become a success when we are ready for it in our heads!
Let me give you a couple of examples:

  • Facebook became an overnight success because this kind of social software became available – WRONG (social software sites have been here for several years – anybody remembers MySpace?)
  • The Internet became a success because we made huge progress in network technology – WRONG (the Internet existed for several decades before anyone noticed)
  • e-learning became a success because we developed fantastic pedagogical principles and got the bandwidth to publish it – WRONG (e-learning lived for 20 years before becoming a widespread phenomenon)

These examples show us that until we are ready it doesn’t matter if we can.
Unfortunately I don’t have the recipe for deciding when someone is ready for something (would be worth a dollar or two…) but I still think this is important to think about when we are contemplating launching a new product or a new way of doing things.

So how can we use this realization in our daily lives?
Before launching something new try to put yourself in the place of whoever you are targeting.
How would you feel? Would you really like to buy it? Would you really like to upgrade to the new version? Would you really like to do things this new way?
If your gut feeling says “no”, then you might reconsider what you are doing, there might not be anything wrong with it – people might just not be ready!

PS: I’m happy to say that my gut feeling still tells me that our next new software release will be a huge success 😉

PPS: Don’t let this stop you from doing something new – good progress has made us what we are and we  need more of it – and for the more questionable items there are always us “new thing freaks”…

One Response to “Now we can – but are we ready?”

  1. Ken Klaus said

    Great insights Anders. I tend to lag behind the “new thing freaks” but I agree that progress is built on trying new things, even if we’re not 100% ready for them. Cheers, -Ken

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