A number of years ago, Apple released Final Cut X, which has pretty much become a joke in the industry. I’m a huge Apple fan, but even Conan O’Brian’s post production team got in on the act. Our post production team at Cooke Media Group just returned from a seminar on the system and are more frustrated than ever. But this post isn’t really about Apple, it’s about that fact that this is actually a good example of something we need to think about when we’re trying to improve any product, organization, or event.
The pressure these days to release the “next big thing” can be so great, that it causes us to sometimes stretch a little too far. When that happens, it can result in disaster. As a result, here’s a few of the biggest mistakes we make when trying to introduce the “next big thing” with products, programs, or events:
1. Don’t forget that people have a past. Strangely, the new FCP X doesn’t work with earlier FCP formats and video projects. So anything you’ve worked on in the past can’t be imported into this version. But any editor has to re-edit or tweak older projects on a regular basis. So don’t forget that your new thing has to work with your customer’s old thing.
2. The more radical the change, the longer the learning curve. People get used to stuff, and the more you shake that up, the longer it takes to re-learn. Which means the longer it takes for people to purchase and use. In the meantime, some of your customers will get angry. So be ready to deal with that frustration.
3. Don’t lose your advocates. We’ve actually heard some Apple representatives say, “If I was you, I’d wait for at least 3 upgrades before I’d buy.” If your own advocates and reps don’t believe in the change, then you’ll have trouble convincing potential customers. So make sure your most passionate people are onboard first.
4. Finally, nothing is worse than losing your customer’s trust. What if a major television project comes in our door next week? Now, our editors don’t even trust the current FCP version, because they know it will eventually require an upgrade, and can’t know if these files will work next year or the next. By contrast, on our Avid systems, we can still open files we edited 10 years ago. There’s trust there that it will always work in the clutch. Never risk losing your customer’s trust, because it’s almost impossible to get back again.
Creating the “next big thing” is wonderful, exciting, and can change your future. But be careful. The pressure can sometimes make you reach too far…. I’d love to know your thoughts. And if you’ve experienced something like that, have I left anything out?