October 15, 2002
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Blockbusters
One of the constructs that sets Jim Collins book Good to Great apart from the rest of the field is how extensive the research is. It stands to reason, and it is true with that book, that the larger the net, the more fish you can catch. This principle is also applies to this book, Blockbusters, and they bring some big ones up to the surface. The authors of this book spent eight years studying 800 new product development teams in widespread companies and ultimately picked 20 extraordinarily successful teams to discuss here. These are the teams that bring you the Apple iMac, Colgate Total Toothpaste, the Iomega Zip Drive, Gillettes Sensor Razor, the Palm Pilot, and more. Not bad examples of success. They then go into an in-depth study of why this product is success, and ultimately, offering the reader five critical practices, called Five Pillars, that are described in detail.
What especially made this reading experience a pleasure was the feeling that I was a fly on the wall during the creation of some of the greatest products. The book is loaded with fascinating stories like the creation of a new stapler. Thats a fascinating story, you may ask? Actually, yes. The authors follow three entrepreneurs in their quest to create, and market, a new stapler design and we get to sit in as they meet with Black and Decker and we watch them redesign it and learn from their failures.
One notably helpful section is where the author offers you questions to ask clients about your product or service to elicit comments that you can then use to improve your product or generate ideas for new products. And a concept that really caught my eye was that of Lickety Stick. Described here by the authors:
Go from concept to prototype to market test to next prototype to market test to next prototype lickety split and so on until the product sticks with the customer. Each iteration doesnt have to be perfect: it just has to be better than the last one. We call the process Lickety Stick.
This book is compelling and very well-written, just loaded with information about product development, with the information gleaned from real life succcesses.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.