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It’s OK for Pricing to Be ‘Under Construction’

If you are old enough to remember the earliest days of the Internet, you probably remember running into graphics like this:

Under Constructions

When the web was brand new, companies were eager to go online, but no one had it all figured out yet. While they were getting their bearings, companies would put up “under construction” notices on their websites as a way to signal that they knew they weren’t perfect but that they were working on it.

I don’t know about you, but it’s been a long time since I saw once of those graphics in the wild. On the one hand, we all know now that websites are constantly evolving, so putting up a notice to that effect seems silly. And on the other hand, we all expect that companies will work out all the kinks in their sites before they go live, so we are offended if we run into a bug or something that just takes a few seconds longer to load than we think it should. We expect change, but we also expect all those changes to be perfect before being released for public consumption.

We’d like to propose that there was some value back in the “under construction” days of the Internet.

It’s a little refreshing to remember when it was acceptable to simply dive in and get started — even if everything wasn’t completely perfect. This idea persists today in some corners of the technology world where hardcore fans will download the “beta” version of a new game or piece of software because they want to be among the first to play with new features, even if they run into an occasional glitch. In fact, many of them enjoy being part of the process of finding and reporting those bugs so that they can make the software better.

In many ways, the pricing function is still “in beta.” And even if the pricing function has been around for many years at your company, the initiatives that you take on are almost certainly new. It’s appropriate to acknowledge that our teams and our initiatives are “under construction” the same way that those early websites were.

We encourage pricing professionals to adopt an under-construction mindset. Give your team and your organization the freedom to evolve. Don’t wait to understand something completely before giving it a try. Dive in. No, it won’t be perfect right away, but it will improve over time.

And in fact, a lot of other business disciplines have adopting similar approaches that involve incremental progress. Developers adopt Agile methodologies. Engineers use Six Sigma. Manufacturing teams employ Lean practices. IT teams embrace DevOps. And you can probably think of more examples of your own. The point is that all these different disciplines have discovered the value of continuous, incremental improvements that add up over time.

Whether you’re evolving the pricing function itself or starting a new pricing initiative, it’s often far better to demonstrate success in incremental steps where you can easily tweak and improve than it is to gamble on big changes that force you to sink or swim. We have a trio of resources that examine this idea in greater depth. Check out Developing a Winning Roadmap for Pricing Success, Why Pricing Initiatives Fail, and Pricing Pilot Programs.

To be clear, we don’t want anyone to put an ugly, flashing under-construction gif on their website. But if you can revisit that under-construction mindset and build it into your team culture, we believe that you will set your organization up for much greater success.

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