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5 Lessons Learned from Henry Ford about Product Management

Below are some things you could learn about product management from Henry Ford.

1. A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one. This lesson from Henry Ford is a pearl of wisdom that’s well worth bearing in mind for anyone who has a bright product idea that they want to commercialise. It’s also the basis for the very first question that you’re likely to be asked when you seek funding for your bright idea; “what’s the market for this?” You probably already know that banks and equity funding providers (well, those that stayed in business anyway!) have been asking that question since the dawn of time, but what you may not know is that grant funding providers also want to be reassured that what you’re hoping to do with their support will ultimately lead to market success.

2. Talking about new features means you’re going to have to continue doing new features. New features were not important to Ford, because his product was already correct and people just love it. The customers became trained not to request for any enhancements. Each product provided some unique combination of new features desired by the target market.

3. If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses One side vehemently argues the merits of innovating vis-à-vis customer feedback; the other argues that true innovation is created by singularly gifted visionaries who ignore customer input and instead manufacture innovation based solely on their prophetic vision for a better future. But that’s not really what it’s saying at all. People do have limited vision if you ask them open-ended questions. And as innovators, job of the product leader is to invent the future. Nevertheless, there is useful information in the faster horses’ idea. It is clear what people wanted, and it wasn’t faster horses. It was better cars, with better financing options.

4. When you’ve done something better than your competitor, make sure everyone knows it. When Ford won a race in the early days of automobiles, everyone knew it. When Ford offered his workers a higher rate of pay, everyone knew it. Henry Ford took every opportunity to tell you why his company and product were better. So if your product is doing well in the market, you should beat the drum and let the world know that your product means a lot to the customer.

5. Don’t focus on innovation for innovation’s sake: Experiment with new product design for months before you commit to changes. Consider lots of prototypes. In fact, before any innovation, an organization has to ask itself the continuous questions:
• Why am I innovating,
• In what should I be innovative,
• How innovative should I be,
• Where am I going to create value? You do not necessarily have to innovate just for the sake of innovation rather keep in mind would this innovation satisfy my customers in the long run.

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