What WW2 German tank design can teach us about product releases

What WW2 German tank design can teach us about product releases

The Germans are renowned for their engineering talents.

Anyone who drives a German car will attest to that. It’s the reassuring ‘clunk’ as you close the door.

Like a Swiss bank vault. 

And great engineering always wins against lesser engineering right?

Wrong.

As WW2 progressed the German army found themselves fighting a war on two fronts.

In the West, the European theatre was stretching over increasingly large areas and to the East they faced the new threat of Stalin's Russia. 

Although they fought hard on the Russian front during the harsh winter of 1942/43, the Germans ultimately lost.

A significant reason for this loss was all to do with the German obsession with ‘quality over quantity’.  

When it came to tank production they were unable to keep up with the Soviets in terms of the quantity of output - they produced around 25% percent less.  

Whereas the Russians were happy to ‘make do’ and either subtly improve existing designs or even simplify them to produce more, the Germans couldn't avoid their inbuilt cultural bias of wanting the best engineered tanks. Ultimately, this slowed down their rate of production and they were significantly outnumbered by the Russians.

Thus, the poorly engineered tanks in larger volumes beat the over engineered tanks produced in smaller volumes.

Just goes to show that sometimes you need to have the discipline to let your product go, warts and all, into the world.

As they say, if you’re not embarrassed by your first release you’ve likely waited too long….more often than not good enough is better than perfect.

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