As you sit quietly reading this sentence, a whirl of offers and new products are waiting to clothe you in choices. Want to purchase a Starbucks coffee? Let me go first, you’ll need time to compose your order, “I’ll have a Grandé decaf extra-hot blended no-foam caramel macchiato...”
We seldom wonder how we’ve become wrapped in options, and yet, companies spend countless hours thinking of ways to bring us new products. Consider Krispy Kreme’s mobile doughnut factory--a mobile store designed to replicate the operations and doughnut-making theater of a regular store within an 18-wheel truck.
The moving store can produce up to 100 dozen Krispy Kreme original gazed doughnuts per hour. I’m willing to bet that more than a dozen hours of thought went into the store's design.
Even if you have tasted a Krispy Kreme doughnut, you may not have given their mobile store much thought. Is there anything you can learn from a traveling doughnut show? More than can be covered in the following paragraphs.
From an options perspective, the mobile doughnut factory is an investment in flexibility; flexibility investments build options into the initial design. In many instances, growth and learning options flow naturally from flexibility. Just imagine all the feedback that can be collected using the mobile store.
Were there any guarantees that the mobile store would be a success? Not really. Like any investment, Krispy Kreme assumed several risks.
First, could they reproduce the regular store experience, including doughnut theater, in a mobile store? I’m sure their engineers had to overcome several obstacles to create the mobile platform. Note that the mobile store was inspired by the success (43,000 doughnuts given away in a day) of an improvised temporary store built on Wall Street. Krispy Kreme wanted to bring their hot doughnuts to Wall Street, so Wall Street professionals could understand the experience. This limited risk investment created a learning option that provided the spark of imagination for the mobile store.
Once the fixed store was transported to 18 wheels, Krispy Kreme was faced with market risk. Would people buy doughnuts from their mobile store? This risk was mitigated through a great product and the use of bite-size chunks. Who’s going to refuse a free Krispy Kreme doughnut sample!
The adaptability of the mobile store fits our fast-changing world; as a result, the mobile store creates buzz, generates feedback, and positions bite-size chunks in forward areas.
When you think about it, object-oriented development parallels the mobile store. First, you have to invest in an object-oriented framework (infrastructure)--this creates flexibility. Then you can deliver bite-size chunks: rapid prototypes, or software that solves a problem that is causing your customer pain. If you’ve designed your mobile software factory correctly, your customers can watch as you build their solution. Proof that your factory works and your software is hot; just as seeing the doughnut factory in action is proof that your doughnut is fresh.
Much more can be learned from the Krispy Kreme story in Creating Customer Evangelists.