What Glee Teaches us about Product Development

So I have this dirty little secret. It is that I quite like Glee, that show about an American school choir.

I like it enough, in fact, that I watched the Glee Concert Movie on Satuday.

In fact, I like it enough that I even watched the 3d version, and put the glasses on my face through the whole hour and a half.

Now that is, indeed, a dirty little secret.

But the thing about Glee is it has quite a lot to teach us about the way to build hit products and services.

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Here’s the first lesson: there’s nothing new in Glee. Let’s face it, it is a show which takes other people’s songs, stitches them together to make a fairly predictable story, and packages it up for easy consumption.

Even the basic premise: students get together and find a connection through music – has been well explored in long running franchises like “High School Musical”.

Genuine originality, it seems is not a prerequisite for something selling well.

Here’s the second lesson: Glee’s heavily processed and packaged product is then repackaged multiple times to optimise the use of the core asset. Glee songs are top downloads on iTunes, at least one of their CDs have been Platimum certified, and of course, there was the whole 3D concert movie as well as the live concerts which are usually sold out.

Interesting, isn’t it, that a show with nothing new in it makes so much money doing the same thing, over and over.

Yet, and I have to admit this again, I like it.

The thing that Glee illustrates so well is newness isn’t necessary for success. What Glee does is build a product based on stuff which worked well elsewhere, and then innovate around business model.

It is a lesson that anyone building stuff for a living is well advised to learn, I think.

As to my dirty little secret: I was planning it on making it a case study in Sidestep and Twist, but I was advised that my credibility would suffer if I did.

One Response to“What Glee Teaches us about Product Development”

  1. jawgardner
    January 9, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    I should let you know that I have had a stream of emails from people since I wrote this congratulating me on "coming out" on this issue.

    Many of them, in fact, have admitted they also have the same dirty little secret.

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