All the brainstorming and hypotheses about a new product or feature mean nothing until it’s in the hands of users (customers). They’re all ideas, but ideas don’t build great companies – execution does.
I catch myself being quiet in a lot of brainstorming sessions for new products and features. I start out hot speaking based on whatever thoughts I have before quickly going into silent mode. I’ll speak up when something is so counter to what I believe, but otherwise, I find myself quiet.
I’ve noticed this a lot, but was never sure why my default mode is quiet, absorbing. I always thought I just had to think more to myself until I read this passage from SPIN Selling
“I remember going to a product launch in Acapulco some years ago. The event was splendiferous. Big names from the entertainment world had been hired at unbelievable cost, and the place swarmed with public relations people, media specialists, communications consultants, and a variety of similarly expensive people. The salespeople, eagerly awaiting the great event, filed into the main hall to hear one of the most spectacular and costly Feature dumps of the decade. I was depressed at the enormous expense my client had gone to in order to make the sales force communicate the new product ineffectively, so I decided to wait outside until all the fuss and spectacle subsided. As I sat by the pool, I noticed two other people who had slipped out of the same presentation. Talking with them, I found that they were both very experienced high performers. ‘It’s just another product,’ said one. ‘When the fuss dies down, I’ll go back in and figure out which customers need it.’” (Rackham, Neil. SPIN Selling. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988)
It clicked for me that I’m quietly deliberating how this would be valuable in the hands of customers. I’m close to prospects and customers, oftentimes, so I’ll start out sharing what I know. I then go quiet to think and absorb because, for the most part, new products and features must be put in the hands of those who will use it. Till then, I won’t know for sure. Focus groups and interviews only go so far, and require real usage to test real-world value.
Consider that for a moment. How do you speak of new products and features today? For yourself? For your customers?