Call it product self-centeredness.
How often to you buy or use a product and can’t for the life of you figure out why anyone went to the trouble? Probably more times than you can remember. Sometimes even the most savvy business or entrepreneur can get too focused on looking inward instead of outward. Scoping products often comes from a personal desire to make something in life easier. But in doing so, are you really creating a business or just an expensive hobby?
Sure, there are great stories about folks who saw a personal need for an innovation. They found a way to solve big problems they themselves had faced. There are also lots of products who continue to listen and respond to their customers. Worse yet, they completely dismiss their customer feedback and forge ahead with products no one wants.
Sometimes businesses listen too much to their best and most hardcore customers. They build for problems only a few people want solved because those people are so loyal and passionate. Meanwhile, they do nothing to solve new problems and bring in new customers. It’s a double-edged sword but to succeed at any business, you must grow or die.
This is why when I hear about “product experts” or when you talk to product managers, you often see the most myopic people in your company. They can’t be myopic and they must listen to all the customers they talk with.
When’s the last time you asked an unaffected outsider to come in and help you design a product or service? This is not a “yes” man/woman. Just like Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM, you have to look outside to get the true change you probably need. Organizations are incestuous. You have to get outside feedback by hiring new people and talking to non-consumers.
If not, you can kiss that business goodbye.
Don’t listen to the internal audience on what to build or what to design. Ask customers, they’ll never lead you the wrong road.