Friday, 15 April 2011

How to destroy a successful product - a step by step guide for companies

The ultimate guide to destroying successful products - suitable for both products from acquired companies or your own unwanted products.

Famous IT magazine (requested to remain anonymous): "An irreplaceable manual for your Marketing, Sales and Development senior managers that demonstrates how the impossible becomes possible - you only need to follow the steps."

This guide starts after you have made a decision that the product is no longer required so we would not discuss the reasons why you may want to destroy a successful product. Some steps must be completed in order and this is specified while others can or should be done simultaneously. You can use this guide free of charge however the author assumes no responsibility if your product is still successful after you have followed the suggested procedure- if you have found the product that can survive these steps please get in touch to exchange ideas.

Step 1 is to keep your intentions secret - the only skill required here is to avoid mentioning your true intentions and this may not be that easy because some people are likely to foresee what you're trying to do. A suggestions is to arrange social activities to demonstrate to the product team that there is nothing to worry about. After all, you want to ensure that your customers are still paying while you execute your plan so it is a good idea to demonstrate to the world that all will remain unchanged.

Step 2 is to change the name of the product. This is very important because the old name is part of the success so if you really want to destroy the product you will have to get rid of the name. For example when Ford bought Aston Martin they did not change the name so the luxury cars brand remained a successful product. However if they intended to destroy the brand they would have certainly changed its name.

Step 3 is to stop selling the product the way it has been sold during all these successful years. This is kind of obvious, isn't it? If it does not sell it will quickly and easily become unsuccessful. The trick here is to propose a new way of selling and convince all of the product people that things will be so much better with this new approach.

Step 4 is somewhat related to step 2. Ensure that the teams developing and producing the product spend considerable amount of time working on non-essential features so that the product quickly falls behind its main competitors. Some ideas of what that might be include - re-branding, features that target non-existent markets or fixing issues or parts in older versions that no customer cares about.

Step 5 - within the teams that create and produce this product - create a culture of blame, uncertainty and fear. This will ensure many key team members will resign and the rest will be more willing to do whatever asked for fear of losing their jobs. This steps is incredibly important for two reasons. First losing key members guarantees the product will no longer progress as fast as before and therefore will easily fall behind competitive products. And two - those that remain in the team will be a lot more willing to move on and work products that you asked them to therefore clearing the path to declare this product unsuccessful and stop any funding.

Step 6 - This one is related to 5 but worth a separate point I think. Find ways to get rid of all the key people around the product that have not left yet. Most such people would realize what is going on and leave but some may not. There is plenty of ways to achieve the suggested - just talk to the appropriate department that usually looks after people in your organisation and they'll figure out a workaround of the employment law.

Step 7 - follows step 6. Getting rid of inconvenient people is good but in some cases you will need to replace them. So when hiring new people it is important to get someone to do the job but also someone who will always say "yes" to you and also will help you create the culture of fear and rumors.. The significance of this is that no one will join your company if you tell them that you are about to destroy the product you're hiring them to manage or work on. So therefore keep that to yourself and ensure people that join or take up roles are of the type that is happy to simply follow your orders.

By this point you may already have successfully destroyed the product. However if you have not yet then here's some more ideas.

Step 8 - Move important functions elsewhere. Say for example if you have multiple locations you can easily make it more difficult for this product team to function if you were to remove one of their important functions and place it in a different location. Distributing the teams also helps towards reducing productivity and in your case achieving this is vital for your goal.

Step 9 - Promise anything to customers in order to get yourself into contracts that you know you cannot fulfil. By doing this once or twice it will become obvious to anyone that the product team is definitely unsuccessful and this product is slowly dying.

Step 10 - You are ready for your final move. After one or two unsuccessful deliveries simply prepare and announce a plan for cease of production and support (in case your product has support). You have made it really easy for yourself because at this point everyone already expects it.


You have managed to destroy your product. You have worked hard and I hope you appreciate this guide. Note that it will work even if you have a very skilled product team - this is the ultimate guide to make them look bad no matter what they do.

Of course there's always a chance that something might not happen as the guide predicts so if you have tried this step by step procedure get in touch and we can exchange ideas to make it better so it serves more people like you.

I hope it works for you ( or rather it doesn't)

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