Are you trying to make your car float?

I love Top Gear (or did, anyway).

I particularly love the ludicrous build projects: Stretch Limos, the Reliant Robin Space Shuttle, and of course the HoverVan. In the latter, as the name suggests, they try and turn an ordinary van into a hovercraft, with expected results.

It’s reinvention, but taken to the extreme. While this sort of thing seems ridiculous once you see the end result, it’s not THAT dumb of an idea on paper. I mean, who doesn’t want a car that can float?

And this sort of thing is so common in the MarTech space. You have some powerful, flexible tool, and a weird use case that you need to solve for. You can potentially buy something tailor made, or hack it together, Macgyver-style. Guess which one I gravitate towards?

And yet we continue to screw this up. You buy a platform, like a Marketo, hire someone motivated to find new, sometimes unusual areas to use it in the business.

Sometimes these plans work out great — such as a makeshift NPS surveying tool. Sometimes they end up an over-engineered disaster, such as an internal sales training site, a data sanitation engine, or a recruiting tool.

The trick I’ve found, is to observe your excitement at the project’s outset—are you more excited for the challenge of building it, or for the problem you’re trying to solve?

If you’re pursuing it just for the challenge, it’s possible you’re building not a solution, but a HoverVan. Catch it early and explore alternatives, or be destined to end up like May, Hammond, and Clarkson, with a 2 gallon fuel tank, no steering control, and water gushing in from all sides.

Here’s a clip, in case you’re interested.