The Value Behind Faster Horses

Giff Constable design, lean

David Bland has a funny, and painful, graphic called the Product Death Cycle.
It clearly illustrates one of the more dangerous parts of customer development: taking customer ideas literally. The famous line attributed to Henry Ford goes, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse.”

Some people take that as an excuse to not talk to customers, but that is bollocks (to channel the Brits since I am in Manchester today).

People love to talk about features. Everyone does, not just us product people. We try to steer our questions towards past experiences, but sometimes you can’t stop the feature-speak. Behind those features, however, are goals (or Jobs To Be Done). If you heard countless people asking for a faster horse, your job isn’t to try to breed one. It is to ask why.

Lane Halley asks a great question, “If you had that feature, what would it let you do?”

Think goals and motivations.