What does the NBA ball episode teach us?
Isaac Cheifetz, a colleague who writes a column for the StarTribune in Minneapolis-St. Paul, discussed some good thoughts about the introduction of a new basketball into the game that was then quickly pulled from the market.
The key points about technology introductions:
1. Don't ignore feedback from workers in the field. While the ball was tested in the lab and among former players, the NBA didn't test among its target market - current players.
2. Live by brand, die by brand. Branding is emotional not the subject of engineering or analytic tests. (Ask Intel or Coke)
3. Quality as consistency vs. user experience. Automation, cost savings and six-sigma won't replace custom, hand-crafted solutions if that is what is wanted. Stars like things their way; just look at Louisville Slugger baseball bats.
4. If you want to be right, admit you are wrong. Similar to other product recalls. David Stern did the same as James Burke - stood up, made the right decisions, and moved forward quickly.