Pimp My Ride?

We recently learned about the different process strategies. They range from process focus, with a low level of output and a high variety of products, to product focus, with a high level of output and standardized products. In between the two is mass customization, characterized as “the rapid low-cost production of goods and services to satisfy increasingly unique customer desires”. It is the perfect combination of product and process focuses and although it is difficult to achieve it has a great payoff if you do.

We have seen successful example of mass customization with Dell computers. Dell allowed the customer to go into their website and create from scratch a system that met their specific and individualized needs. It was a hit for a while, until Apple began to dominate the electronics market. But the fact that people latched onto this idea shows that as consumers we know what we want and how we want it. So why don’t we do this with every product? Larger products? Namely cars.

Nissan Skyline R33 w/ Heat-Sensitive, Color-Changing Paint

It was a surprise to me, possibly because I only have a basic knowledge of cars, that you can in fact customize a car to your exact specification and that wasn’t just a concept limited to the very very wealthy and MTV’s Pimp My Ride. Beyond choosing black, white, grey, or red, and whether you want a drop top or not there are so many ways to customize a vehicle. There’s heat activated color changing paint and cars that have up to 1,750 horse power. Amazing.

So, ignoring basic cost restrictions, why are we all out here with the same basic variation of the same car? Why is there no website like Dell’s where someone can go and build their car from scratch meeting their specifications and limited only by their imaginations?

While it’s fun to think about there are currently obvious restrictions to this idea, and major differences between the production of a computer and a car. My question is could this be a future possibility? We saw the efficiency of a Tessla production center that required less workers and allowed for a greater accuracy and output of production. Could we take this model and expand on it to the point where at the click of a button we have a fully customize product ready for delivery to our nearest dealership. Would people even participate in something like this? We saw the success of Dell but we also saw its decline when something else was introduced to the market. Apple computers sold better but have less opportunities to be individualized, but people don’t seem to mind. What would be the drawbacks in mass customization (and there are probably a lot) of motor vehicles?




Get in the Shower if it All Goes Wrong

The worst think about working on a project, especially when you’re the manager, is when you can feel it failing. Both you and you team know you are losing your grasp on it and you feel powerless to stop it. Whether it be in a school project, or at work most of us know that feeling.  This is a hard pill to swallow because it means accepting that there is a problem with the path that has been taken.

So how do you get past this? How do you revive a team like that? Should you scrap the project all together losing all the time, energy, and resources put into it? Or should you power through with a bad plan just so you can finish? Maybe you could complain loudly, but ultimately do nothing to change the situation. I’ll admit I have occasionally been that person. It’s not something I’m proud of.

While these steps might be easy to do they aren’t always the best course of action. Here are some simple tips to get your project back on track:

Identify the problem

To fix the problem you have to know the problem. Take a step back and evaluate the situation, you need to understand exactly what went wrong and when. Now you have a starting point to build upon.

Get in the shower

Literally or figuratively clean yourself off! Rid yourself of the bad feelings you previously had towards the project. While this tip might seem unessential, it is actually quite important. If you refuse to let go of your past failures with the project it will make moving forward virtually impossible, it can hinder your ability to come to the table with an open mind ready for a fresh start.

Talk to your team

Communication is key. To get your team back on track everyone needs to be on board and working towards the same goal. This is not a time to try and place blame. Make sure everyone knows their role and how it contributes to the bigger picture. If possible, encourage an open line of communication to eliminate a breakdown in the project due to a breakdown in communication.


Learn from your mistakes and refocus yourself. Based on your identification of the problem create a new plan that solves it. “Issue a revised scope statement, obtain the funding, reset the schedule and obtain appropriate approvals. You have been given a new lease on your project” (Cutting).

This list is by no means comprehensive and these are only beginning steps to fix a bigger problem. But start here and you’ll be on the right track to saving your project.

How could you expand on this list? What tips do you have for saving a project? What doesn’t work? How do you know when a project is no longer salvageable?