Just like many other kids from seventies, I have grown up reading superhero comics. Powerful graphics, captivating story-line and fascinating antagonists kept us busy all through the childhood. Never missed smart phones or tablets!

World has changed and Spider Man has grown even bigger. Meanwhile my five year old son decided to unearth all the mysteries about Peter Parker and his strange transformation. Constant flow of unavoidable questions from a preschooler made me think. First time started looking at Spider Man as an Idea, rather successful idea which entertains millions and hence makes millions for Marvel. My observations could be of some use to fellow professionals, hence decided to share. I am not an entertainment pro but I know about product development a thing or two.

As per Spider man creator Stan Lee’s autobiography, Marvel publisher Martin Goodman gave thousand reasons why Spider Man won’t be successful. Not at all surprised. We can come up with our own list of flaws in the idea with very little effort.

Spider is not a fascinating insect for most humans. Qualities of a Lion or a Tiger would be much more appropriate for a superhero. If ground transportation is not reliable in case of emergency, why not think about a bird like Eagle?
How can a human spin web? Mouth? Nose? Ears? or any other body part where there is a hole? Wrist? wait a minute, we don’t even have a mechanism to discharge something from wrist. It’s one thing altering facial characteristics or muscles, but a hole on the wrist?
Spider is known for web and climbing wall, is that enough for a superhero? how would you justify any other powers he might need?
We can go on and on. It doesn’t take a genius to identify flaws in an idea, but It takes a visionary to foresee what an idea can accomplish. Every idea which is successful doesn’t mean they are flawless. It means net strengths outweighed net flaws. Spider Man not just a grand idea but an awesomely executed plan which excites large enough market segment.

Spider man teaches us few important lessons:

  • The value of an idea is sum of it’s net strengths and net flaws.
  • The challenge is to identify strengths of an Idea.
  • Logic can not always define what customer wants.
  • Execution is as important as the idea or may be more important than idea.

Most professionals in product development know these facts and Spider man is just another illustration. I would love to hear about more such examples.

Written by Nikhil

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