The Spork — spoon & fork or neither?
The Spork. Brilliant, right? This is the tool that will solve the issues that we face every time we sit in front of a meal, right? Why is it then that I don’t own a single one of these? I have dozens of forks, and spoons and knives, but not a single spork to my name. Sure I’ve used one here and there, and to be honest I like the idea of it’s utility, but all in all a spork just serves little to no value in my regular grub time.
Hey Spork! I need a fork OR a spoon, not a fork AND a spoon
Why does the spork serve little to no value?
Because, when actually putting food into my mouth from the table, I need a fork OR a spoon, not a fork AND a spoon. Sure, when grabbing flatware from the kitchen, I know I need to grab a fork for the salad, and a spoon for the soup. But when I am actually eating the salad, I need a fork that will do the job of a folk and only a fork. Then when I switch to my soup I need a spoon to do the job of a spoon.
…the spork has really just become more a symbol of eating fast food “chicken” than a utensil that enhances user experience.
From a product management perspective, you would think that the spork would have been a “slam dunk”; a “game changer” in the kitchen drawer organizer industry. I can just imagine those KFC executives high five’n each other over this brilliant cost saving move that would be a win:win for the company and customers alike. But the spork has really just become more a symbol of eating fast food “chicken” than a utensil that enhances user experience. I hope that KFC keeps using that spork, but I also think there are some lessons to be learned from this product.
2 Lessons learned from The Spork
Many time businesses create products for the wrong users — themselves.
1 — Address the user’s needs not the companies
Undoubtedly, over the time that KCF has been using the Spork (the 1960's), it has saves millions in plastic costs. Now you can get other utensils at KCF but most of time you just get a spork. And really all you need is a spoon, but the spork makes you feel like you have more and it saves the company money. So really this item does not add to the user’s experience and value of the product — unlike chopsticks at Panda Express. Many time businesses create products for the wrong users — themselves. When it is companies that solve problems at the customer level that truly succeed and have a lasting impact.
The iPhone could have been another spork
2 —Be careful when combining two or more key functions
The iPhone could have been another spork. Remember “An iPod, a Phone, and an Internet Communicator.” The beauty of the iPhone (and other smart phones) is that the quality of one of its features don’t subtract from the others. Its a good phone, a good iPod, and a good thousand other things thanks to app developers. Unlike the spork that really isn’t a good fork or a good spoon. A little user testing would identify these issues and others. The import thing here is to try and reduce the psychological distance between the idea of a product and its actual application. Because when we are away from the actual task of using a product we don’t always think about the factors that are present when we are using it.
What other products have proven to be sporks in their own way?