That is great news and very encouraging. Bottom line is that CE should take load from DE and make him more free to concieve new products for company and its future. CE should not again become burden and liability to DE.
The rest of the story goes like this. The prospective CM CEO commissioned me for this trip to evaluate the product and to determine if he was going to accept the Offer to become the CEO. He and I worked together before and before he stepped into position, he wanted to do all the due diligence first. I was the technical aspect reviewer. After I gave my evaluation and submitted a proposal on how to make the product more viable, then the board met without me. I was woken up at midnight, asked to come downstairs and meet with two individuals on the board. They asked me if I would be willing to move to the East Coast and manage the development. They asked me also if I would stay on even if the guy who assigned me to the evaluation did not become the CEO. Enter the political agenda. It sounded like skullduggery was afoot, so I simply said I had obligations in California and respectfully declined. By the time I got back to the states, the board had disbanded, the Professor's ego was unsuccessfully challenged by daring to suggest the product wasn't ready, and the parent CM discontinued business operations within a month. The board split right down the middle. My CEO friend got out as quickly as he could and we are having lunch next week. Bottom line. They needed another million for R&D and Marketing cost. They would not be ready for the Januaray CES, and EGOs destroyed any possibility of meaningful or productive compromise. If Apple had developed the same product, it would be commonplace today. It was viable. It was a great idea. It was benevolent. It was the wrong company with unrealistic expectations with no real industry experience. I approach business opportunities now with a much more holistic view. One of the first things I want to know is if the size of someone's ego is going to crowd out common sense or wise counsel. I did have an experience of a lifetime visiting Israel.
Douglas, Fascinating example! This shows the chasm between design and reality. The concept sounded great but obviously it lacked the elements that would take it beyond the design level to the customer. I have a couple of questions arising from this. One, in your opinion, what could have been done to bring the product to market or was it a lost cause and; second, is it possible you could pull examples like this into your next blogs? Thanks!
I like that term "Operatioalize" you used to describe one of thr CE's roles. In fact, I had a consulting job that took me to Israel where I was asked to assess a product's readiness for the market. The product was designed by a professor and students from Technion University and a Contract Manager here in the states was trying to determine if they wanted to invest in the Professor's company. It was a 3-axis accelerometer pen that would translate repetitive movements made in the air to keystrokes visible on a computer screen. It also had an ink cartridge for taking actual notes on paper that would also be visible on screen. Well, after I examined the individual components internal to the pen, I determined that the activator switch chosen was only good for 2000 cycles, about one page of written text. Also, the design team never performed a basic drop test where the pen was allowed to fall from desk height onto a hard floor surface. The size of the ink cartridge was prohibitively limited to allow for the electronics, the tether cable that connected to the PC I/O forced the user to counter balance the pen's high center of gravity, and a multitude of other reasons for declaring to the board that the pen was not ready for prime time. The moral of this story is, one may have a proof of concept model, that may not be mass producible or practical for the market. In this case, the CE role was not able to justify or "operationalize" the product's viability because of the analysis concluding that the wrong components had been selected, no real reliability testing had been conducted, the pen was unsuitable from an ergonomic viewpoint, and the design team hadn't considered the eventualities of using the product in the real world. However, it was a great science project as the software using the 3-axis accelerometer was a great idea for people with disabilities who could hold an implement in their mouth, using repititive, recordable movements for writing or transcribing purposes. 10 years later, the product has still not appeared in the Marketplace.
Douglas - This is a great list! The only other thing I could think of is to make surre that the source of supply is reliable ansd acceptable for military applications (when that is a factor, of course).
Thanks Douglas for the clarity you have stated as it relates to component qualification and the people that help to make the products. You are absolutely right in your choice of the people the people to engage in the company. The design engineers like the achitects have careful planning skills that considers all aspects of the products, before the component engineers that implement or operationalize the designs. Obviously the purchasing folks are the fiscal team members that help make it all worth the effort and drive the profitability of the products. This helps to make the process easy to understand. Thanks again
@_hm: I guess that this is one of the reasons that Douglas and I have decided it's time that the "oldtimers" need to pass on some their wisdom to those coming along behind us. In this vein, I plan to be posting a series of articles about the CE process and some of my experiences within the CE community. I hope to start soon on this task, but it may not be before the beginning of the new year, since there is so much going on during December. I really look forward to passing on some of the experience I gained in my working over 35 years as a CE. It's not always about money, but sometimes a person likes to be able to leave some sort of legacy as well. Hang in there and you will soon see that the "oldtimers" really do have some wisdom to pass along. We will try our best to live up to your expectations.
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