How to Kill a New Idea


Recently branding guru and media critic Adam Hanft wrote:

It’s easy to look at the iPhone and then reverse-engineer the arguments that would have killed it off at damn near any other company:

Consumers will reject a keyboard they can’t feel

No one will spend that much for a phone

People won’t want to get a new number online

You can’t succeed working with just one carrier

Isn’t this true? Before we even go to the marketplace we can fine 1,000 ways something won’t work. We could even get great research or testing and kill something that will be something the consumer really wants (and maybe don’t know it yet).

Great product development is a balance between people’s gut feelings and logic. Unfortunately it appears we can always find reasons why something won’t work – then somebody like Steve Jobs comes along and shows us that in a down and saturated market someone with creativity, persistence, and knowledge of the customer can succeed (iPods, iMacs and now iPhones).

Steve Jobs and Apple are good, but they don’t have a monopoly on great, successful products. In your industry or business you can do the same thing. Begin your discussions by looking for all the reasons a new product or service will work. Then go out and talk to some customers and find out their needs. After that, then, maybe, you can kill off the idea.

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