The four C’s of diamond cutting are Color, Clarity, Caret, and Cut. Every stone is judged on these characteristics, and the price set accordingly. My assertion is that these qualities also apply to the art of product development. Engineers and Product Managers, listen up! The value of products for your customers follows the same principles as cutting and polishing a beautiful stone. Indulge me, and I’ll explain.
1. Color. People expect beauty in the products they use, and will always choose a pleasing product to an ugly one. This aspect of project development refers to the almost imperceptable touches of style you add to your work. As left-brain engineers, we often overlook this.
2. Clarity. Have you applied a ‘usability test’ to your product? How clear is it? How easy is it to navigate and complete the basic tasks? Consider using a digital camera to study people using your product. You’ll learn a lot about clarity and usability.
Polish: Refers to any blemishes on the surface of the diamond which are not significant enough to affect the clarity grade of the diamond. Examples of blemishes that might be considered as ‘polish’ characteristics are faint polishing lines and small surface nicks or scratches. Polish is regarded as an indicator of the quality of as diamond’s cut; it is graded as either Ideal, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair or Poor.
3. Caret. Is your product full-featured? Is there a lot of value? Consider building it out to offer more for the money. But listen closely to customers before launching into your build-out program. Find out what they want, and add only those features.
4. Cut. There a dozens of ways to present a product (i.e. cut the product features for use). Choose an ugly one, and customers will look elsewhere. They want new ways to approach their problems. After all, they have exhausted all the conventional wisdom, and are looking to you to solve the real jawbreakers. Do it, and they will reward you.