by • June 13, 2012 • ProductComments (2)161

Scapegoats look like solutions at a distance

Sales had been dragging for months. But a saviour was in sight: self-serve. At the time, our sales & setup process were manual & high-tough. Self-serve was going to open the floodgates and let all the little guys swarm in with their wallets in-hand.

Our conviction about self-serve was practically religious. We never once questioned it.

Our situation was so bad that doing something differently would surely be good.

Here’s the pattern: you examine your current problems. Then you see another solution which avoids those problems. It looks like a magic bullet and you devote significant resources to achieving it, only do discover that it does not work as expected.

We make this mistake because we forget that changing strategy or product means opening a whole new can of metaphorical worms. Old problems disappear, but new ones pop up.

We solved the high-touch bottleneck, but ran face first into trying to adapt a sales-driven organisation to a marketing-driven channel. We had never asked ourselves what problems would exist after we built the new product and never looked for ways to start testing them early. If it was our very first product, we would have. But as it was, we had tunnel-vision for a way to get past our current obstacles.

Out of the pot and into the fire, as they say.

Always ask what-if. What if we build this? Where are we then? What are the new challenges? Which parts of the business and organisation change? What stays the same? What can we do to find out if it will work? Are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

Are we going after a treasure or just madly fleeing troubled waters?

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2 Responses to Scapegoats look like solutions at a distance

  1. Rocio says:

    Agreed. You need to learn new methods or not just marketing but customer service. You can’t simply let all interaction go out the door. How do you promote a product or increase the sales if you’re simply leading someone through a path and hoping they make it through to the end?

  2. Lukas says:

    I don’t think that one can always answer these questions prior to trying something new, as there are always unexpected turns and twists. But this is the magic of startups – the possibility to fail, retry and improve faster than anyone else. So trying to answer the questions is definitely a good first step but don’t be to sure about it.