Is A Product Ever Fully Baked?

December 11, 2014

We always do the very best with what we have - right now.

If new insights are revealed or changes in the market affect a product we already have out there, it is our responsibility to continuously improve those offerings. Our inside look at hundreds of businesses suggests this often happens more by chance than by design.

We are suggesting these improvements always be by design and re-visited often. Without specific processes designed to address this, it is unlikely to happen on a regular basis. Whatever changes we make to our product, we must also address "what people need to know in order to buy our product" rather than "what we think we should tell them so they will buy our product". It is a subtle but critical distinction.

VIROX Technologies Inc. based in Oakville, Ontario, is a leader in Hydrogen Peroxide cleaning/disinfecting products for commercial and consumer use. Their unique Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide patents are built on a series of carefully designed, company-wide processes that impact every aspect of product development. CEO and Founder Randy Pilon, refers to it as KEY LEARNING SESSIONS, which involve all staff in the strategic planning process. “Key Learning sessions are at the forefront of our strategic plan sessions, this is where we scrutinize the prior year’s critical assumptions and see “how right or wrong” we were...what happened and why. We also assess “Trends & Implications” to help drive new critical assumptions for the upcoming plan period.”

It begins with all staff members participating in a KEY LEARNINNG SESSION. They openly assess what they have done, could have done better and identify changes in their department's processes that ultimately improve the product or the delivery of service to their customers. Randy is clear: he and his management team would not confidently know what to focus on without the valuable input of their front line people. It is a sacred trust that must be nurtured and valued - even if it results in an employee telling you your baby is ugly. They must have the room to say it if they truly believe it - without the fear of being sidelined or fired.

Pilon goes on to say ”Our Monthly Score Card is to evaluate your functional area key metrics, measuring and monitoring those metrics to make sure things are as expected.....like a health check up on a person, vital signs and then a few layers deeper...if something doesn’t look right, investigate, dig deeper.” This is an early warning system for tracking changes like the way clients are using the products, changes made by competitors and economic changes in certain regions that may affect the sales of a product. VIROX is seldom surprised by an issue for which they haven’t already considered or created a contingency plan. Changes to existing and new products are made quickly and efficiently. Spotting the conditions that drive those changes is a unique process we seldom see in businesses. It is all part of Randy's KEY LEARNING SESSIONS. No wonder VIROX continues to grow and generate record profits, even in a tough economy.

Another feedback process at VIROX is called Monday Update. “Monday Updates are about “visibility and accountability and transparency” states Pilon”. He refers to it as their internal social media. In an online internal forum every employee states publicly the answer to the following 3 questions:

1. If I was not here last week these 3 things would not have happened.

2. If I did not show up this week these 3 things would not happen.

3. How do these 6 things fit with our overall Strategic Plan?

Think about the power and empowerment this provides for each and every employee and how it motivates them to be their personal best around the job. They get to publicly state their accomplishments without bragging and set their immediate goals and priorities.  Putting them out there online makes them accountable to their fellow workers – at the same time relating to the overall goals of the Company and the products.

Just telling people that your employees are your business won’t make a difference. What will make a difference is setting up empowering processes like those at Virox that will allow you to continuously improve your product.

Great products are never fully baked, no matter how good the original version. You need the right processes and the commitment of all your employees to keep on baking newer and better versions of your product.

As you change your product, make sure it continues to be packaged to address the needs and wants of your ideal customer. Your promotional approach does not have to change every time the product does. That is a whole other topic that we’ll cover on its own. 

Derek A. Lackey

A serial entrepreneur with many failures and successes, Derek has spent 20 years in traditional advertising, along with the past 8 in digital marketing. His ability to fuse the two with fluidity and... »

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