Roll Out, Find Bugs, Fix Them…

Mary Barra, the new CEO of General Motors, is the first female CEO of a major automobile company in history.  This is news – big news!

But here is a slice of an interview with her from Popular MechanicsInterview: New GM CEO Mary Barra that is telling about her understanding of the way the world has changed.

Popular Mechanics, Question:
People are used to updating their digital technology every couple of years, but cars last a decade or more. How do you keep up?

Barra:
Think about it. Yesterday I was downloading [the new iOS update] and it said, “For new features and bug fixes.” And we all look at it and go, “Oh, good. Let me press the button and get the new thing.” How do we make sure that what we’re delivering to you is not going to require eight product fixes and then, especially in the infotainment space, how do we develop coverage over a three- or four-year period? Think about how fast technology moves in that space.
[Imagine if], instead of driving out of the dealership and your car losing value, your car just keeps getting better because we keep providing [updates] as technology advances, as you get a phone that’s got more capability. But how do we stay with it and provide more technology in the vehicle so that it matches that phone that didn’t even exist when the car was first developed?

So, Ms. Barra is thinking about updating the technology in a car just like we now update the technology in our devices.

Great insight.  Forward thinking insight.  And…  it’s about time insight!

So, let’s reflect on this new normal.  This is the word we now live in:

We now buy something.
When it is given to us, it is already “buggy.”
But, we accept the “bugs,” because we want the capabilities in spite of the bugs.
Then, we expect the “bugs” to be worked on, and fixed, pretty quickly.
But, we know that even with the fix, new bugs will be found, and they will need to be worked on, and fixed.
And, before all the bugs are fixed, we will have another rollout of the next bigger update.
And the “find bugs, work on bugs, fix bugs, roll out new features” cycle continues.

How long will this process continue?  Until the end of the world!  We really have “taught” ourselves to expect this cycle – “find bugs, fix bugs” — to be the expected norm.  We’ve made peace with it.  Oh, we curse the bugs; we curse the mistakes, but — do we really want to go back to the first version of IOS, with never an update?  Nope!

Good for Ms. Harra to think about this in her cars.  I’ve got a hunch that we all have to learn to think this way in whatever arena we work in.

What “bugs’ do you need to identify?  Then work on, then fix?

And, what features would your customers be delighted with, that you need to rollout — even if you rollout the features with a few bugs that will then need to be fixed?

Randy Mayeux


Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

2 responses

  1. Good perceptive article, and can be applied successfully to many different industries. My rub when applying the mobile phone analogy to cars revolves around the planned obsolescence of your phone. There is going to be a new one every 9-12 months from every manufacturer and 3-4 years from now the hardware on your current phone either A: won’t be able to process all the new software upgrades at an acceptable level (think slow) or B: won’t be updated/serviced by the manufacturer anymore. Thats acceptable to me for a device that runs in the $200 range, but not acceptable for a device that averages $31,000+(http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2013/09/04/record-price-new-car-august/2761341/). When vehicles are now being financed on 60, 72 and even longer notes, your car which is dependent on factory upgrades/ support will likely be unsupported and obsolete before you have finished paying it off!

    I once heard a joke that is Bill gates designed cars they would all go 1,000 MPH, get 500 miles to the gallon, cost 500 bucks, and once a week spontaneously explode killing everyone inside and the next guy to come along would turn it off and turn it back on again and drive away like nothing happened.

    That is not the car I want to own. Nor do I want to get caught in the infinite loop of being dependent on auto manufacturers to keep my car functional with upgrades, until they decide that it’s not in their best financial interest to keep upgrading a 5 or 6 year old product…

    1. Great insight, Matthew!

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