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Frustration with Management - A Cautionary Tale

January 2, 2006 - by Robert E. Stevens, GENESIS II(The Second Beginning) E-Mail:

A couple of weeks ago I had the good fortune to again talk to an old friend that I had worked with after my retirement from Procter & Gamble. A few years ago, he was working on a product still in the early stages. He asked if I would be interested in helping him develop the product. I volunteered my services if the company would just pay my expenses. We agreed that I would appear as a non-paid consultant for his company.

At the time I started to work with his company, they had a basic product and a concept. All we had to do was to get the costing in line and improve a couple of the product characteristics along with converting the concept into a Brand Positioning and creating the package design, including graphics. Within about two months we were ready to conduct our pre-market introduction test. We chose the Disposable Test Market design.

Results were favorable but could have been better. We were ready for market introduction. Unfortunately, at this time, the company was assigned a new president by the parent company.

The result of the presidency change was a repositioning of the Brand. Back to the drawing board for everything but the product. No changes were requested for the product only the packaging, positioning, advertising and copy. About a year later we were again ready for the market, but again the parent company assigned another new president. And again the new president had the urge to put his finger prints on the new brand. Again back to the drawing board. And again we were not going to change the product only the packaging, copy, positioning and advertising.

At this point, I backed out of my agreement. Enough was enough. The brand made it to market after three different positionings in three years. Needless to say, while still on the market the brand is not doing very well.

What really bothers me is that management's only concern was the words describing the product. The actual product had little to do with the presentation. What were they selling? Words? The whole experience reminds me of a builder wanting to construct a three bedroom ranch home, building one and then placing it on the market as a two story colonial. In other words, don't worry about what it is, just tell them what you want them to hear, regardless of the nature of the product. The lack of concern about the relationship between the product and the promise is a sure formula for failure.

The Ten Tasks

In my Views of December 6, 2005, I referenced the "Ten Tasks of Highly Effective Companies" as an analogy for personal development. As a result, I received a number of calls and emails about the Ten Tasks. If you don't remember and are curious, see the Views Library at and go to the Views of April 6, 2005, "Are you an effective CEO?"

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