View Full Version : Question of the week: Which is more important, the process or the product?
05-08-2011, 05:29 PM
This is not a new question in business by any means, but my goal with these questions is to get you thinking about your businesses and your projects in a different way each week.
So, which is more important to you and why?
05-08-2011, 09:22 PM
Joe - great question. I'm thinking a lot about building better processes for my business right now, so process wins. (For now.) I think strong processes will in turn lead to better products. So I would say that process should be king. (Again...at least that's what I think now. And have E-Myth fresh on my burners too, so that adds to the process influence.)
But here's one thing I've learned: if you take too long to build your processes, you'll not make it to product phase well. (Easy to get bogged down.)
05-09-2011, 09:20 AM
Scary - Not something I do often but here's what I'll be posting tomorrow on my blog (not yet edited by Shelby) It was written over the weekend which tells me Joe and I are once again thinking on more or less the same wavelength. It seems to be an appropriate response to the question.
The Project Mentality: Start, finish and then start again
I don't make widgets. Instead, I help create works of art. For me success is based upon my ability to take an idea from conception to commercialization. I've learned, that at that point, I need to step back and let others take over. That doesn't necessarily mean I let go completely but I certainly try and keep my fingers and toes out of the day-to-day operations of what we've built.
How the project mentality looks
About a decade ago I spent a good deal of time in Hollywood. Yes, that hollywood where they make movies. I never had anything to do with the movie business but I had several customers in Southern California and traveled there for 4-5 days every five or six weeks. I ended up staying at the same hotel on Sunset strip and frequenting a restaurant many evenings that is really a locals joint. Over time I became friends with dozens of folks in the entertainment industry.
On some trips I would see certain individuals at Mirabelle every night. Then, I might not see that individual for several months. I started to wonder about that and then asked questions about it. The Movie and TV industry is very project oriented. I learned that when you are making a movie you work 12-18 hours a day 7 days a week until the production is complete. It's an expensive process and the investors want their money tied up for as short a period of time as possible. So, that's the project side of the equation. You work your butt off for some period of time to bring the project to a revenue generating stage.
When my Hollywood friends were in town they still were working, just not at such a frantic pace. Many times I'd venture to Mirabelle for dinner only to find a friend or two reviewing a script or looking over a TV pilot proposal. For a time there was a part of me that wanted to get into the entertainment business on the business side of things of course. I recognized that this start, finish, start mentality fit my way of working.
How to apply the project mentality to your business
First, you have to find the right ideas. This is what I was thinking about when I wrote "How I Convert Ideas to Profit." When my friends in hollywood read scrips and reviewed TV and movie proposals this is what they were doing. This is the most crucial part of the process. Think of how many movies with casts made up of A-list stars fail to deliver because the story stinks.
Next, you need to build a team. In Hollywood it's the cast you see and the much larger support staff you don't really think about until you watch the credits of a movie roll. Picking the right people is key and just this year I've shared "Building Successful Teams," and "Effective team building at 47 years and counting."
With the right people and the right idea in place it's time to work our butts off until the project starts generating revenue. Then, it's time to slowly turn control over to an operational team. Operational and creation mentalities are different and thank goodness for that.
Then, it's time to slow down, rest and start looking for the next idea worthy of converting to reality. It's good to actually be looking for the ideas while in furious work mode but don't spend too much time evaluating until you are in a more restful state. At least that's how I've been doing it. Your milage may vary and I'd love to hear your approach to getting things done.
05-09-2011, 10:44 AM
Great process sometimes leads to great product. However, even people with lousy processes can have a stroke of product genius. In those cases, I just pray they can back it up with a process that at the very least doesn't ruin the product's development. In other words, dysfunctional people can develop great products, but they have to figuratively hack their way through the thick rainforest with a machete to get there.
05-09-2011, 12:24 PM
Joe, I can never just answer the darn question, so I am going to say C- neither or D- the customer.
Business is holistic, and great products that aren't marketed well or are too individualized can't support a viable business.
A great process that has a lousy product that doesn't solve a customer need may get some initial traction and may make some money, but it won't inspire repeat business or a long-term model.
Focus on what the customer wants and needs, and incorporate that into product and process.
05-09-2011, 02:09 PM
What Carol said : ). It's a chicken and egg question in many ways. I do know that without process, a great product or project will sputter. Process is also one of the hardest things for creative-types to sustain, so I do see a lot of entrepreneurs trip on process. Or looking at it another way, a great product is the exciting place to start but the process sustains profitability.
05-09-2011, 03:14 PM
Working for many years coming in to find gap's in the process from an IT Auditor perspective I always had to look into the Technical process tied to the business process. I guess many companies fail when they have issues in the process.
On my side I would go with adequate processes. They will always help you and assist improve your product.
* Identifying opportunities with the product
* Understanding capabilities of the product
* Identifying and fixing flaws with the product.
* Understanding the current place of the product in market.
Good solid process will help you look for the best opportunities available for your product.
05-09-2011, 05:46 PM
Great question, and tough question, Joe!
Both are critical.
You can't have a business or business transaction
without a PRODUCT, but...
...you can't have a product without going through the
absolutely critical PROCESS of determining:
- the right product, with
- the right positioning, and
- the right promise (benefit).
That initial PROCESS to determine those critical aspects of your product
is probably the most important thing you'll ever do for the success of your business.
Everything else flows from that. :)
05-10-2011, 03:49 AM
Coming from over a decade with Big Blue (being trained in process creation and improvement along the way) and working in small businesses of my own, and then internet businesses I can say that process should be revisited in a quarterly basis even when it seems to be working perfectly but investment should be in getting the product right first.
No good having a shiny production system pumping out something that no one will buy. That's why kitchen table products, and startups have the advantage of being able to keep stabbing at the product (hopefully until they get it right) and then they can look at getting the wastage down...
05-10-2011, 08:09 AM
Personally, I don't think you can have a great product without great processes. A product only has a limited life no matter how good, so an approach needs to be something like idea, rapid protoyping, testing, refinining, testing, launch. The better the process, the better the product. The trick of course is to have elegant processes.
To put this in perspective, take a product like a MacBook, an iPhone or an iPad. Apple takes a holistic view of everything, covering great design, functionality and userability as well as the purchasing experience. That's all down to process.
05-10-2011, 08:24 AM
Great job with the answers guys, wow. I know I gained some new perspective in this thread.
But now, let's all do something that we don't always do so well. Take our own advice!
Take a few minutes to take a longview of your work, how is your process shaping what you're selling?
Maybe it doesn't, maybe it doesn't need to. Or maybe you're missing out on an opportunity to differentiate yourself.
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