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You find yourself surrounded by the myopic masses. Trying to maximize one metric at the expense of all else. The director of product safety would require all your users to wear a helmet, gloves, ear protection, eye protection, soccer shin guards and a condom. Your finance director will demand proof of return on investment if you’re lucky – and will slash all costs – which materializes as a travel ban (canceling all your customer visits) if you are unlucky. The director of operations will insist on fewer SKUs. The director of sales will demand more SKUs. Don’t look to the C-level folks to bring order to this chaos. There are some good ones of course – who will drive better decision making – but don’t count on it. It’s pretty common that they will be carefully maximizing the variables which will get them paid the most. (And before I sound too judgmental, those are big bucks – that can meaningfully improve their lives – and I can’t say that I wouldn’t act the same way in that situation.)
These are the headwinds that you face. But don’t fear them. Face them. Golly gosh darnit, you’re a New Product Dog, and you will make the best decisions for the company as a whole. First, you must earn this right in the form of …. your homework. You must have done enough work, whether hired out or executed yourself, to understand your market, your company’s operations, your company’s capabilities so that you can make an informed recommendation. Generally, you’ll know the market the best – and you can work with all the parties above to understand how your decisions might affect them.
For example…if you add a SKU to address a new market, what development investment is required to bring this to life? Is this a one time event, or likely to really address an unmet market need?
If you do recommend increasing you prices, have you estimated what the difference in profitability would be? If this causes a loss of market share, have you considered how this might embolden competitors – or the additional impact of the loss of add-on sales?
Do your analysis, then make your recommendation and defend it boldly. You may be worried about a “career-limiting move”, but in the long run, people will begin to understand that you’ve done your homework. As to any negative consequences for holding your ground, let’s consider the words of Marcus Aurelius (from Meditations):
“The speed with which all of them vanish – the objects of the world, and the memory of them in time. And the real nature of the things our senses experience, especially those that entice us with pleasure or frighten us with pain or are loudly trumpeted with pride. To understand those things – how stupid, contemptible, grimy, decaying, and dead they are – that’s what our intellectual powers are for.”
In other words, this too shall pass – and the negative consequences that you imagine are unlikely to take place.
Do your homework – then be bold.