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“People tend to have these grandiose product plans that run into multiple years,” Makagon said. “You’ll get there, in two years, but only if you have incremental goals along the way.”
Right from the start, break the big project into manageable stages, Makagon said. Give your team a smaller goal that can be quickly attained at the outset. Use that first benchmark to help set the next one.
Once the goals are being met, it’s not always a sign of smooth sailing. Recognise the plan isn't set in stone and things may go wrong along the way. Maybe that open-source software program you chose to run the project just isn’t working, and now you’ll need to come up with the budget to replace it. Delays and changes are inevitable, but correcting an issue early and adjusting the plan accordingly is better than watching it all go bad at the end because of missteps you could have corrected earlier.
And that leads to Makagon’s third step toward product development: a quality assurance process that’s integrated from the start. Consider it the coveted role of devil’s advocate. Whatever the product, continually test it and create all kinds of scenarios that your customers may encounter. Ask what works and what doesn’t? Consider what you’d find annoying and a breeze. Remind yourself what problem this solves and ponder whether you’re creating any new ones with what you’ve developed.
And remember, you’re the boss for a reason. “There’s an element of intuition that good managers have,” Makagon said. “They can evaluate product development based on the feedback that’s coming in, beyond just data from technology.”
Quick response when things go sour
At Starbucks, Egan saw plenty of successes, and a few disappointments, as the coffee giant expanded its menu. The decision to adapt its food offerings in North American stores began when the company noticed a simple trend: many customers bought a beverage and then went elsewhere for a meal.