In today’s competitive marketplace, businesses often feel like they have to move at warp speed to be successful. Slow down even a little bit and rival brands will catch up or even surpass you.
That being said, going too fast can be risky, as we all learn early in life by racing through a math test or doing our homework at the last minute – going too fast is a surefire way to make mistakes.
And, when you’re responsible to others, as is the case for businesses, that’s a risk you can’t always afford to take.
Risk-Aware Or Risk-Averse?
When evaluating how your business approaches issues like product development, one framework you need to carefully consider is whether you are risk-aware as a business or risk-averse. One approach isn’t necessarily better than the other, but your attitude toward risk will determine a lot about how you conduct your business.
In fact, you may use both these strategies, choosing between them depending on the issue at hand. When it comes to legal issues, finances, and other high-stakes choices, though, it’s often wiser to be risk-averse.
Know The Stakes
The major reason why being risk-averse is such a beneficial strategy for businesses developing new projects is because the failure to do so can lead to many types of harm and, in the aftermath, personal injury lawsuits.
As a category, personal injury covers a variety of issues, ranging from traditional product liability cases to car accidents and even medical malpractice depending on your business’s industry. For example, if you develop and manufacture tires but rush a new design to market and it causes a series of blowouts, you could be liable for all of the car accidents that result. Staying aware of the stakes for errors in your industry is essential.
Expect The Unexpected
Another reason why slowing down product development can be wise for businesses from a liability perspective is that it gives you time to think more creatively about the potential for problems. Why should you think creatively about worst-case scenarios? Because, unfortunately, they’re much more likely than you may think. Take the recall of Peloton’s treadmills recently.
Peloton recalled their new treadmills this spring after a variety of injuries, including the death of one young child. While treadmill injuries are not uncommon in general – many feature small clips that stop the machine in the event of a fall, for example – but Peloton likely didn’t substantially consider how unsupervised children might be harmed by their pricy machine because children are not their consumer audience. It’s not at all uncommon for issues like a lack of supervision to take a product from harmless to deadly, but slowing down can help businesses plan around such incidents and prevent them.
In recent years, we’ve seen changes to liability law that could force businesses to further consider the consequences of their products, specifically a shift that might hold distributors liable for faulty or counterfeit products sold via their platforms. This includes major third-party distribution sites like Amazon, who have the clout to force smaller companies to do better.
Slowing down product development doesn’t necessarily mean giving up your chance at a patent or losing out on customers if it’s part of branding yourself as a company that prioritizes quality and safety.
Still, it’s a change in philosophy that is at odds with modern corporate culture, and it’s one you have to choose because capitalism won’t choose it for you.