jamming square pegs into round holes?

Square Peg in a Round Hole From the days of Ford’s Model T, standardization has been a powerful force in successful strategy. Ford’s original insights on standardization had to do with ease of assembly and service to lower costs, but I’ve noticed two examples recently where standards inside a product line have created formidable competitive advantages.
According to Farhad Manjoo’s article on Apple’s strategy in today’s Wall Street Journal, “The iPad has managed to attract more than 400,000 apps that are designed for its screen size. There is a simple reason: When developers write apps for the iPad, the apps work on every model, from the iPad that goes for $299 to the ones that sell for more than $800.” Farhad makes the point that lack of uniformity bumps up the time and cost of developing apps, which makes Android, for example, “a nuisance in large-scale business deployments.”
LEGO, the world-famous toy designer, has a similar principle woven into their product strategy. Here’s how David Robertson explains LEGO’s advantage in Brick by Brick, his recent analysis of the company’s reemergence as the leader in toys:
Long before the first computer software programs were patented, LEGO made the brick backward compatible, so that a newly manufactured brick could connect with an original 1958 brick. … No matter what the toy, every brick clicked with every other brick … creating an entire system of play, with the brick as the unifying element.
In my own consulting practice, I’ve seen strategies launched to standardize business processes that would allow enterprises to operate globally across plants and divisions. Business process standardization can break the curve of rising IT implementation and maintenance costs. It also makes it easier for users to get business information they need and communicate it to others.
If you’re trying to make sure you’re not jamming square pegs into round holes, whether in your product marketing strategy or in your change management efforts, let’s talk.


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