Your Opinion, While Interesting, Is Irrelevant. Wait! What?

Your opinion, while interesting, is irrelevant. Wait! What?

Well, let me explain. I am referring to customers and product managers, and this statement applies equally to both.

Customers provide information based on their experiences, perceptions, and opinions. They may describe what they want or a solution based on what they think is possible. All of these are valuable data points but not sufficient. You must dig deeper to understand your customer’s needs and what they are trying to accomplish. Only then will you fully understand the problem they are trying to solve and what product or service they would hire to accomplish that job. A customer’s opinion may or may not align with the ultimate solution — but it is a starting point. The final answer may be an enhancement to what currently exists or an entirely new product, technology, or approach. As a product manager, it is your job to figure that out.

Likewise, product managers must resist the temptation to prescribe a solution based on their initial opinion and “knowing” the obvious answer — no matter how tempting. Again, dig deeper. Have you identified the right problem and need? There is a wealth of opportunity in the details. Often there are gems and nuances that, when discovered, can make the difference between a product that simply gets the job done and one that creates raving fans. As a product manager, it is your job to figure that out.

Originally published on Medium.