The lesson is this: Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, but make sure you throw out the bathwater.
What’s the bathwater? It’s the features that don’t work well or that barely anyone uses. It’s the part of the design that’s confusing, frustrating, or simply extraneous. It’s the stuff that customers don’t like, adds too much complexity to the product, and causes maintenance problems and customer-support pain, and maybe, like BMW, even harms your brand. It’s all dirty bathwater, and it should all go down the drain.
But don’t throw out the baby! The baby is the part that customers love.
This sounds obvious, of course, but unfortunately keep baby/discard water is not usually what happens. Usually when things go south we react in one of three ways:
1. We want to hold on to everything we’ve built. We’ve invested a chunk of our lives creating something, and we can’t bring ourselves to throw any of it away, until…
2. We come to a momentous resolution to make a big change and scrap everything to start over, or…
3. We keep what’s there and incrementally add features in the hope that some improvement will save the day.
It’s rarer to remove what doesn’t work and keep what does. It takes planning and discipline. We can’t generalize that keep baby/discard water is the right thing to do in every situation, but we should recognize when there’s baby and bathwater and act accordingly.
Been there, done that, never the less it takes a lot of courage, will and vision to keep on track. Or better said, to keep the baby!