Back in the last century, Henry Ford is famous for saying “You can have any color Ford you want as long as it’s black.”
Today, Ford Motor Company has a different thought process, but that isn’t all that Henry said.
He also said this:
If I’d have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me “A faster horse”.
Doing research into customer needs is a necessary thing, just don’t confuse the customer’s stated needs with the problem they’re actually trying to solve.
When a client says they need a faster horse, don’t they really mean “I need to go faster”?
What about your clients?
How much time do you spend studying what your clients *really* need?
- Isn’t anticipating those needs what market leaders really do?
- Isn’t it your job to see them before anyone else?
Isn’t it your job to present those new solutions to problems clients didn’t realize they had – until you pointed them out?
One of my favorite local CEOs here in Montana says they deliver their products “just before just-in-time”… isn’t that the job of a market leader?
It takes some thought, in fact, maybe even some study of the problems your clients really have. Not just a questionnaire about the problems of today often caused – paraphrasing what Einstein said – by the thinking of yesterday.
Did any of us realize we needed a Walkman until Sony pointed it out? Or an iPod, until Apple started selling them?
So think about it: Do your clients *really* need a faster horse?
Or is that just a symptom that cloaks the real problem facing them?