Saturday, July 18, 2009

Not a Stroke of Genius

I picture a group of executives crowded around a boardroom table. A boss stands at its head waving a piece of chalk as he talks. He then scrawls across a board in capitals, "NEW", and underlines it three times before turning to face the brain trust before him, "That's what we need".

He slides their current product into the table's centre. His speckly assistant hastens to open it for display before bustling back to the seat nearest the chief.

The room is silent.

A brave young marketer volunteers, "It'd be great if it was safer."

Bolstered by his colleague's suggestion, another marketer present adds, "And less bulky".

Now the discussion is roaring along, with the latest addition, "And it didn't need sharpened all the time".

"Brilliant, just brilliant!" the head honcho says, slapping the table. And so dawns the age of this:


But other companies compete to profit from the disposable razor fever.

The same group, greyer, and weary, reassembles around the board table. The guy who suggested the blade be safer now stands at its head. He taps a whiteboard marker on the table, dangling from a loose grip.

Quietly, from the back, an intern submits her thoughts; "You could add another blade".

As if all manipulated by the same marionette control bar, all present rise in their seats as though pulled by strings attached to their shoulders. Eyes widen, they exchange nods and raised eyebrows of agreement. "Yes!"

And so came this:
But before long, another company is desperate to be a step ahead in the market.

What next?

I hear crickets in their boardroom. Depressed, sagging after reviewing the razor sale statistics, the team searches the fake marble pattern of the boardroom tabletop for answers. Some search their laps.

Things look grim.

Here is where I begin to become amused.

Someone must have said, "We could add...another blade......?" I add the question-mark, because I imagine more than a twinge of doubt in this proposal. Perhaps accompanied by a wince, and recoiling fingers on the person's thighs - ready to be raised to shield criticism.

Instead, the idea is smothered with praise. "Excellent idea! Run with it!"

Tadah!
Déjà vu! The crew is seated in the same room. They wait.

You can taste the desperation as one executive pulls his bottom lip to the side as he says, "How about another?"

Was there head-scratching at the next meeting? Or was it Microsoft-ish in its execution from the beginning?

Did they really think this was revolutionary?
That it would surprise us?

5.

Back to the drawing board, right?






Haki and I were seated in front of the television last night when a commercial came on promoting "Titanium-coated blades".

Titanium I say.

I screwed up my face, as if to say, "Seriously?"
What I said out loud was, "What next?"

Haki calmly replied: "Adamantium".

I smiled quietly in approval.



NB:
  1. My imaginings of boardrooms do not represent fact; I do not suggest these events occurred...I just see these scenarios in my mind as I laugh inside at the evolution of the razor.
  2. Yes, I know I'm not the first to ask, "How many blades do we really need?" ... Other bloggers have made comment, reviews have been written, and even essays have appeared on the subject.
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