A whole lot of good

Summary: Attention to product quality that goes unnoticed and unappreciated by your customer will consume resources that could be put to better use.

Source: A Harvard Business Review article from the May 2009 issue (p. 68 is relevant to this post) examining six mistakes companies make in managing capital. There’s a pay wall since the article is an issue old.

Relevance to media: What makes good or bad journalism? It’s a question Jeff Jarvis asks. Some news sites say it’s all about quickly getting up any tidbit of info and editing it live with help from the crowd. More traditional outlets attempt to create unassailable tanks of stories that rumble into the information battlefield and sit there, deflecting doubts until victory or submission to a stronger fact.

But once you define good or bad, how do you make your customer aware of it, and convince him or her that it matters?

Bottom line:

  • Quality is a measure relative to your customer
  • But a general news customer has a huge range of constantly shifting expectations when it comes to experiencing a story
  • So one customer could want news fast, then later want it slow and rich, then happy, then sad, and so on
  • That’s a lot of different versions of a “good story”
  • So divvy up information by experience type instead of subject?
  • Just know what your customers want, and when and how they want it
  • Understand their experience with your product; what exactly are they reading that article for?
  • Deliver that, no more, no less

It seems the Web, through the power of extensive, cheap and quick information distribution, is pushing all businesses to kill off historical inefficiencies and offer highly specific experiences and solutions at times and in forms dictated by consumers.

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