Why is “Dodge Caliber” my most popular search term?

The Ur-Caliber

The Ur-Caliber

The hottest Crossderry search term over the last few weeks has been “Dodge Caliber”, which brings folks to my “Benefits vs. Disbenefits” post. Probably not quite the take that most link followers expected, but the image does point them to Eric Beckinger’s cri de coeur.

I guess I should opine briefly on why I empathized w/ Eric’s rant: I had just rented a Dodge Caliber. The shape had intrigued me when I first saw it on the road. And though I had read a number of negative reviews, I was eager to give it a whirl once I saw it was my week’s rental.

Frankly, once you look past the profanity, Eric may be understanding the poverty of the Caliber driving experience. It wasn’t just bad, it was depressing. My mantra while driving it was “I’m so glad I didn’t get close to buying one of these.”

Oh, and I kept thinking back to the time I drove a Trabi…

Isn’t a “disbenefit” really just a cost?

In a comment, Craig Brown at Better Projects asked me if disbenefits weren’t simply costs.   That was my first take as well, and disbenefits do indeed have costs (additional resources or forgone revenue).  After further thought, the “disbenefits” concept should be clearly differentiated from the concept of costs, which after all come along with every project.

Disbenefit is a British usage, meaning “disadvantage: something that makes a situation disadvantageous or unfavorable.”  In the project context, we Yanks might call these disadvantages side effects or externalities generated by the deliverables of the project or program.

Let’s go back to the poor Dodge Caliber to flesh out an example.  Some auto companies use fleet sales to move slow-moving or undesirable inventory.  Even if these fleet sales are low or negative profit — when taking into account fixed costs of the tooling — microeconomics 101 says that profit is maximized/losses minimized when one produces and prices to the point where Marginal Revenue = Marginal Cost.   However, such a static analysis doesn’t account for the disbenefits generated, per the outline below:

  1. Due to poor reviews and dealer sales, Chrysler management sells unwanted Dodge Caliber inventory to rental car companies to minimize losses.
  2. Renters of these unwanted Dodge Calibers are dissatisfied with the Caliber and form negative opinions of the Dodge and Chrysler brands.
  3. Therefore, these renters are less likely to purchase any Dodge or Chrysler car (lowering sales and profits across multiple marques).

I’ll play around with a couple of spreadsheet scenarios illustrating how to quantify this disbenefit.

Benefits vs. Disbenefits

Read Eric Beckingers post on why this car shouldnt exist...

Click to read Eric Beckinger's post on why this car shouldn't exist...

As we build the value management components of the next generation of SAP methodologies, I’ve dug in to the program management standards of PMI and OGC.  One of our first principles is to ensure alignment with industry standards; however, for programs and value management we’ll need to mix and match.

One example of a concept not in both standards is the idea of “disbenefits” in OGC’s Managing Successful Programmes (benefits profile outline here).  The concept is illustrated in my comment below about a Dodge Caliber rental…

I still can’t get over how bad the Dodge Caliber was to drive…however, a short test drive could fool the unwary.  Only a bean-counter would think it was a good idea to keep building Calibers. What is more valuable: the additional amortization of the Caliber tooling you get by selling more cars or the lasting emnity of the folks who buy them?

And that’s why considering disbenefits makes all the difference…

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