This piece of advice has a lot of appeal for entrepreneurs. It is action-oriented, helps streamline and decrease product development time and costs and focuses the product and the firm on customer needs rather than technology. What’s not to like?
It’s clearly the best business strategy with which to go – as long as you are in the business of bringing new technology to the marketplace. If you are doing anything else, this approach can kill you faster than a speeding bullet.
READY, FIRE, AIM
When technology and its capabilities are new to the market, only the potential customer can say with any certainty whether it really does have value, exactly where that value lies, which group in the marketplace would appreciate it, and whether it needs more “adjustments.” So the quicker one gets the product into their hands, the better.
But when the technology is already known and in use, any new entry will automatically be compared to the existing market leader.
The market leader creates a de facto benchmark against which all new product entries will be measured. Introducing a new product to the market that doesn’t measure up to this established product standard – or, even worse, is not yet fully tested or reliable – will generate immediate comparisons that will get your fledgling product written off before it even has a chance to demonstrate its value.
In this situation, one needs to move back to the more traditional “ready, aim, fire” approach, studying the competitive products to identify the real value and “borrowing with pride” the valuable features and attributes. Or, alternatively, one can change the target customer to serve another (hopefully underserved) segment of the marketplace to ensure favourable placement and positioning before launching the product.
This is the situation in which Research In Motion finds itself today with its upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform.
READY, AIM, FIRE
RIM is in a fight for market share, as well as investor confidence, and yet RIM’s chief executive Thorsten Heins recently announced a further delay in the delivery of its new platform, pushing it to early 2013.
Despite the multiple pressures to get a product out fast when product standards and requirements are already firmly established in the marketplace, Mr. Heins is absolutely correct to take the slow and steady approach and take the time to ensure that he delivers a rock-solid and strongly competitive product to the market.
PULL THE TRIGGER ALREADY
When H. Ross Perot sold Electronic Data Systems to General Motors in the 1980s, he joined the car giant’s board of directors. When asked a few years later, he said that the biggest difference between the two companies was in their approach. At EDS, the approach was ready, fire, aim. Or, to put it another way: get on with it – now. By contrast, the approach at GM was much more “ready, aim, aim, aim, aim.” Or, put another way, it was the dreaded “analysis paralysis.”
The trouble with ready, aim, fire is that first it requires planning and then a decision to pull the trigger. It’s next to impossible to get all the market information one needs. A lot of it simply doesn’t exist. The trick is in getting the information one can, applying some basic market analysis, and then pulling the trigger. Waiting until one has absolutely everything that’s needed means never reaching that final step.
When introducing new technology to the marketplace, ready, fire, aim is the perfect strategy, but it will likely cause trouble if the technology or product already exists. Conversely, ready, aim, fire will improve one’s chances of success in that type of market, providing one avoids the dreaded “ready, aim, aim, aim, aim.”