Respect your product or service’s core function

Sonic toothbrushI have a Panasonic sonic toothbrush that I bought for a decent price a few months ago from Groupon. It is a pretty good toothbrush – for proper oral hygiene I recommend using a sonic toothbrush in general (and flossing regularly, of course).

One feature that this particular sonic toothbrush has goes as follows: every 30 seconds, the toothbrush stops operating for a split second so that you will know that it is a good time to switch “zones” in your mouth (front right quadrant, back left quadrant, and so on). They do this to encourage users to brush for a good two minutes, allotting 30 seconds per zone.

This particular feature of the toothbrush really bothers me. For a while I couldn’t figure out why that was. After all, it only shuts off for a split second, and then continues brushing as normal – until 30 seconds later, that is, when it will shut off again to let you know that another 30 seconds have gone by.

This morning while brushing my teeth I finally realized why this feature really bothers me. I bought this toothbrush for one reason, and one reason only – to brush my teeth. Shutting off that function, for no matter how short a time, goes directly against the core function of this product. I didn’t buy the toothbrush as a toothbrushing timer, I bought it so that I could clean my teeth. You can add extra features, sure, but don’t do so at the expense of the core function of the product.

My toothbrush shutting off for a split second every 30 seconds is akin to having a car that stops moving every 30 miles to let you know you’ve driven for 30 minutes, or a phone that mutes every 30 minutes to let you know you’ve been talking for 30 minutes. Maybe you care about knowing how far you’ve driven or how long you’ve talked on the phone for, but if you do, you probably have another way of tracking that. You don’t need your car or phone to do it for you at the expense of your driving or communication.

Although my toothbrush is a pretty good one, when it comes time to replace it I won’t be getting another one like it. I’ll get one that does what it’s designed for and lets me worry about the rest.

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PMP Exam Prep:  Seventh Edition

About the Author

Website: Brian Crawford
I'm a Canadian and British dual citizen with an internationally-focused American MBA and an MS in International Project Management from a French business school. I am PMP, ScrumMaster, and ITIL Foundation certified. I'm particularly into travel, writing, and learning about different languages and cultures.