Time shift… USA in the early 50s - an exciting time to be a designer and engineer. Car designers drove dull, pre-war cars down the freeway to drawing offices where they imagined long, low, chrome cars with rocket fins. However they never forgot that on launch day a crowd needed to turn up and vote ‘yes’ to their new creations.
Failure wasn’t an option, so 50’s car people tapped into the public’s excitement for the new aerospace industry so that come car launch day, there was a reasonable expectation that a crowd would show up and love what they had imagined.
We live in equally exciting times.
Yet what we hear from startups: “Here, I created this, it’s taken me years - and look what it does …. I’m excited - so I can’t understand why enough of you don’t love it like I do?”
A crowd needs to turn up and vote when we launch. Actually - OUR crowd needs to turn up and love what we’ve made for them. We need to understand our crowd’s dreams, preoccupations and challenges as early as possible. Then our mission is to imagine the products and build the business that our crowd will love and vote for.
Easy to say … why do the stats say it is difficult to do? Could we be building things before we understand our crowd?
When business people look out the window, in their eagerness to push on they sometimes mistake their own reflection for their crowd.
We must first ‘see’ our crowd in order to know and understand them …. then we are free and better qualified, to imagine and create.
Imagining! Seeing crowds that are not there yet! Crazy! Then call Jobs, Bezos and Musk crazy.
In his book Zero to One, investor Peter Thiel said; “The greatest thing that Jobs designed was the Apple business. Jobs imagined the business and executed multi-year plans.” You’ll recall Steve Job’s product launches and the all-night Apple store queues. What about Musk’s imagining? Currently Tesla can’t make enough new Model 3’s to satisfy current orders.
Are you an inventor, designer or engineer in the process of creating something new? Great! The good news is that a crowd of people are becoming dissatisfied with their current choices and they'll soon be on the lookout for something more exciting, and that makes better sense …. to them.
Seek to understand your crowd early, and when you launch it will be a big relief for the crowd to discover what you've made for them.
Sure - right now you need to concentrate on the thing that you’re making. But you also need to get the crowd part right – or when you finally launch and go public, the loneliness could last a long time.
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Kel's topics come from his discussions with forward-looking leaders within fast-growing businesses.