So there I said it. Product Development is like playing AFL for the first time as an adult.
I moved to Melbourne in 2014 from Taiwan and had zero clue what AFL was. Baseball and basketball, yeah sure. Aussie Rules? No, thank you. I would rather watch the paint dry. Fast forward eight years later, I proudly finished my first season of Amateur Aussie Footy with a rib injury and a neck brace. I announced to my team, the Elsternwick Club, that I'm coming back in 2023 for a second season. Why? Because I loved it. The challenges and the unknowns. EVERY SINGLE GAME, INJURY OR NOT.
Thinking back to my first team meeting in March this year, the coach asked us why we were there individually. Being a clown, I said, “Cause I need to stop yelling at the AFL game on the telly.” Everyone laughed with me, not at me, and deep down I know that was the team I wanted to be part of.
So what does product development get to do with playing footy? The answer is, that you never know what is going to happen and the results can be very different if you kick the ball wrong. Doesn't matter how much you practised or how hard you hustled. That is exactly like product development.
I had no clue what I was doing when I first started on the footy field. I got the professional footy boots and the orthodontic mouth guard. I felt ready and thought I was going to play for AFLW 2025. Planning and preempting for the future, right? Yet my kicks weren't better than the kids starting out at Auskick. But slowly, I learned how to dispose of the ball rightly and how to tackle other players skillfully. My teammates and coach were my saving grace as they'll give me feedback both at practice and during the match. I got better. Not great, but better each time and I kept going back.
When you are at the beginning of your product development phase, you will do market research and see if your ideas have any legs. Then you'll go to a local agent or talk directly with the factory, to get your samples and production done. Then you'll just sell it. Sounds easy right? Wrong. In the current era post covid, you can't go to the trade shows overseas, where a lot of things are made, because of travel limitations and health concerns. Shipping costs and freight time are through the roof. Not even to mention, the competitive online landscape of similar products you plan to sell. What do you do then? As if you've got a handball like hot coals and you have to make the decision but no time to think.
This is why you have experts who have done it before to be with you every step of the way. Who you can go to with questions and have mock practices played out so you can play on. Suddenly, it all makes sense and you know the right moves on the footy field. Thank you, Elsternwick Club Coaches and the best amateur footy club in Melbourne.
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