14 December 2006

Once you have the design right - don't change a thing

Christmas brings its normal spate of family update letters and here is an extract of one of these letters (from a polyglot friend of mine who lives in Switzerland) about a Steinway grand piano.
Here I have a 106 year old piano, with a truly divine tone, which is indistinguishable from new. Yes, I really mean it. The only way you can divine the age of the instrument is by reference to its serial number. It is remarkable that once Steinway had established the design for its four main grand pianos, Models A, B, C and D in the late 1800s, nothing was subsequently changed, other than a few decorative mouldings cast into the frames, which have been modified over the years. The Model C of today, made only in Hamburg, is identical to the one I have purchased, which was made in 1900. So, I guess one must say - "They got it right".
That's something that many businesses forget. They continue to tinker and increase their costs without improving the delivered product or service for their customers. Periodically it is worth standing back and asking the idiot question "Is further development necessary?". Although people often ask this question in relation to software development (even if they ignore the answer), it has relevance over a much wider spectrum.

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