“When a company starts to lose its major battles, the truth often becomes the first casualty. CEOs and employees work tirelessly to develop creative narratives that help them avoid dealing with the obvious facts. Despite their intense creativity, many companies often end up with the exact same false explanations.”—Lies that Losers Tell // ben’s blog
But he was missing the bigger picture. The idea of the tests he ran wasn’t just to get data – it was to get insight. All of those activities – talking to customers, A/B testing, etc. needed to fit into his business model – how his company will find a repeatable and scalable business model and ultimately make money. And this is the step he had missed.
Customer Development = The pursuit of customer understanding
Part of Customer Development is understanding which customers make sense for your business. The goal of listening to customers is not please every one of them. It’s to figure out which customer segment served his needs – both short and long term. And giving your product away, as he was discovering, is often a going out of business strategy.
“Don’t play games! We all hate games!” we tell ourselves. Mine, too. But then there’s reality. The sooner you accept realpolitik the sooner you realize that the incentive structures of dealing with companies, organizations and political structures (not to mention human nature) requires you to play the game.”—Everybody Wants Their Pound of Flesh (Negotiating with Buyers)
Ghosts: invisible specters often thought to be trapped between worlds, left to torment the living or act as a messenger from the beyond. They invoke fear because we can’t touch them, can’t see them, and we don’t fully understand their existence—much like the mysterious design decisions that…
“it’s possible to divert yourself for a long, long while with money, power, fame, toys, and the other assorted fun and games we’ve used the institution of a consumer economy to produce. But love is not a commodity. Love is the messiest, most singular, least interchangeable, and most transformative idea our species has yet invented. Unlike the humdrum, yawn-inducing stuff our institutions can offer us, love can’t be bought off the shelf in a neatly packaged twelve-pack.”—Why Love Matters More (And Less) Than You Think - Umair Haque - Harvard Business Review
“The fact is, Steve Jobs didn’t succeed because he was an asshole. He succeeded because he was Steve Jobs. He had an uncanny sixth sense about what consumers wanted, an unmatched ability to adapt existing technology and turn it into something new, and a commitment to quality that turned ordinary Apple customers into fans for life. Being an asshole was part of the Steve package, but it wasn’t essential to his success. But that’s not a message most of the assholes in the corner offices want to hear.”—Be a Jerk: The Worst Business Lesson From the Steve Jobs Biography - Tom McNichol - Business - The Atlantic
“Thus, the upside-down pyramid. Stop thinking of the management team at the top of the organization. Start thinking of the software developers, the designers, the product managers, and the front line sales people as the top of the organization.”—A VC: The Management Team - Guest Post From Joel Spolsky