Good. I appreciate your articles, even if I don't always agree. This article makes many good points. Talking about personal vehicles, the problem that the auto/EV industry today has, is their product is NOT actually functionally equivalent to ICE vehicles, and for most of the harried middle class, EVs have LOWER utility than ICE cars. Whish is why the middle class is not yet buying them en masse.

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Tata Motors hoped the tiny Nano would be for India what the Model T was for the USA. They succeeded in designing and building the most inexpensive new car in the world.

...which is exactly why it flopped.

The company overlooked an important factor: newly middle-class Indians saw new cars as status symbols and didn't want the stigma of owning a "cheap" vehicle. They were willing to save up or pay a bit more to get a larger (and presumably safer) car instead.

There's a lesson there about being one of the first countries to have an emerging middle class, and one which is only building up one now.

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Dan (if I may be so familiar!), as you so often do, you have very clearly laid out your thesis and made clear to me your thoughts. Put another way, it seems to me that your writing resembles Henry Ford's flivver process insofar as you seem to have your conclusion (i.e. the goal) firmly in mind throughout the process of writing your column.

Again, Sir, well done!

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Commenting much too much today, but I just want to add a plug for Dan's earlier book "Risk" which was the subject of my career, as well. (In my case, the less-terrifying risks like water mains breaking, but, same math.)

That had me reading Barry Glassner's "Culture of Fear", very much on the same topic as Dan's "Risk", the risks we over-fear, the more-serious ones we miss. I'm glad to see the field got an update, just as I retired. I'll be picking that up before I get to Dan's new planning book!

Because, apropos to today, knowing what is the real risk (and not) is, is to know what the the real customer need is!

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Tight focus on the original goal works when you know what you want, and what you need.

My own career worked better when I was constantly experimenting - finding out the new technology can do X, showing that around, getting buy-in. We frequently discovered things we didn't think our new tools could do. People had little time for our modifying their work-situation, they really favoured "computerizations" (a near-dead word now, no? In the 80s-00s, everything was "computerized", now we just rewrite) that were quick and easy.

When senior managers started an IT project, they would crank up this huge Stage I to just find out what the goal was - and everybody would ask for everything, they had no idea what was best automated, what was best left manual, to provide the user with more control.

These things were always impossible to explain without thousands of words of dull detail our our bureaucracy and what it did, but I've discovered a great metaphor: the Segway. Brilliant, jaw-dropping engineering. I'm sure the clear goal at the outset was a device you just stepped on, and it whizzed away because you unconsciously leaned the way you wanted to go, balancing itself with its five gyroscopes, sensing your weight shifts. Steve Jobs was as impressed as he was by the G4, said we'd redesign cities around it.

And it cost thousands! And sold as well as the G4. There IS a market for these things, as sports cars can tell you - it's just not a big market.

Compare the Segway to the scooters that took ten more years to show up. They don't automate balancing the scooter, it just falls over, like bikes always have. They don't automate steering to your learning, you have to control it like all previous two-wheel vehicles. And it cost less than 10% of a Segway.

But you'll have to show me the minutes to convince me there was any planning-meeting about a minimal e-scooter for the Common Man that invented them in a boardroom before anybody picked up a soldering iron. It seems very much like what two guys in a garage in Dayton, Ohio might come up with as they said "How can we make ourselves a little scooter for the least parts? Just 'automate' the wheels moving!"

My worst projects turned out like the Segway, the software hard to use because it was overcomplicated, trying to do too much. All of those were designed at length, with 3-ring-binders for the five project stages. My best projects were just me and one or two clients, huddled together in a tight, exploration/development loop, finding out what I could do for them with minimal resources, and stopping when "most of their most-tedious" steps had been automated. e-Scooter sized projects!

I would concede that my "exploratory IT" is not to be used after "R" stage of "R&D", for products to be mass-manufactured for large markets.

But, then again - the Segway was very clearly planned, I'm sure, as was Ford's Edsel.

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