Written by Sergio Barbosa on June 8, 2023

Building things right and building the right things.


The Sinclair C5 was a three-wheeled electric vehicle designed to be an alternative to traditional cars and bicycles. It was lightweight, compact, and had a top speed of 15 miles per hour.

Sinclair was confident that the C5 would be a huge success, and he predicted that it would revolutionize transportation in the UK. However, the product was plagued by quality issues and design flaws that made it impractical and unsafe to use.

The C5's low profile and lack of visibility made it difficult for other vehicles to see, and its small size and low speed made it vulnerable to accidents. The vehicle's battery life was also limited, and it struggled to handle hills and inclines.

Finally, the quality of the vehicle's construction was also an issue. The C5 was made of lightweight plastic, which was prone to cracking and breaking. The battery compartment was also poorly designed, and many units experienced problems with the battery leaking or overheating.

All these quality issues contributed to the failure of the Sinclair C5. Despite being a unique and innovative product, it was ultimately unable to overcome the practical challenges and safety concerns that plagued it.

We will never know if the Sinclair C5 would have ended up revolutionising transportation in the UK because it wasn’t built right.  But if you are building things right from the start, how do you know you are building the right thing?

Building the right thing.

In 2012, Airbnb was struggling to gain traction and growth. The company realized that they needed to improve the user experience on their platform to make it easier for people to find and book accommodations.

To address this challenge, Airbnb turned to Design Sprints to quickly test and iterate new ideas. They assembled a cross-functional team, including designers, developers, and product managers, and began conducting week-long sprints to prototype and test new features.

Through this process, the team was able to rapidly iterate on ideas and gain valuable feedback from users. One notable outcome of the Design Sprints was the creation of the "Wish List" feature, which allowed users to save and share properties they were interested in.

The Wish List feature was a huge success, and it helped to significantly improve the user experience on the Airbnb platform. This, in turn, led to increased growth and adoption of the platform.

Since implementing Design Sprints, Airbnb has continued to use the process to develop new products and features. This has helped the company to stay ahead of the competition and maintain its position as a leader in the sharing economy.  Design Sprints has ensured that the company is building the right thing.

Designs Sprints at a glance.

A Design Sprint is a structured process for quickly exploring, testing, and validating ideas for new products, features, or services. It typically involves a cross-functional team working together over the course of a week to develop a prototype and test it with real users.

The goal of a Design Sprint is to rapidly prototype and test a new idea to determine whether it has potential to be successful in the market. By working in a structured and collaborative way, teams can quickly identify potential issues and address them before investing significant time and resources into development.

From a technology perspective, a Design Sprint can be especially helpful in ensuring that the team is building the right thing. By prototyping and testing with real users, the team can gain valuable feedback and insights about the user experience, which can be used to inform the technology decisions that are made during development.

For example, if the team discovers during the Design Sprint that users are struggling with a particular aspect of the prototype, they can use that information to adjust the technology implementation to better meet user needs. This can help to ensure that the final product is not only technically sound, but also meets the needs and expectations of the target users.

A fall from grace.

In the early 2000s, Blockbuster had the opportunity to acquire a small DVD-by-mail rental service called Netflix. However, Blockbuster declined the offer, believing that the DVD-by-mail business was not a significant threat to their brick-and-mortar business model.

Blockbuster also failed to recognize the growing trend of online streaming, and when they eventually launched their own streaming service in 2010, it was too little, too late. Their service was clunky and difficult to use, and it could not compete with the more established streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.

Blockbuster's lack of foresight in the changing technology landscape ultimately led to their downfall. In 2010, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy, and by 2014, the company had closed all of its remaining stores.

The importance of building the right thing from a technology perspective whilst at the same time being open to adapting to changing technologies and consumer preferences cannot be overstated. Failing to do so can have serious consequences, even for well-established companies with a large market share.

In summary, you need to do both.  Build the right thing AND build it right!

At Global Kinetic we pride ourselves in this approach that we take in to all our projects.  Our Discovery process is designed to ensure this and includes Design Sprints as a tool to facilitate building the right things.  Our Delivery process has been refined over many years through continuous improvement to ensure we build things right.  To find out more about how we can help de-risk your technology investment and build an award-winning product, contact our sales team now.

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