“It doesn’t matter what we want. Once we get it, then we want something else.” – Petyr BaelishThere is an adage about customer feedback – apocryphally attributed to Henry Ford – that says “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This is often used to back up similar behaviour from Steve Jobs as he famously and aggressively ignored customer feedback.
“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” – Steve JobsThe recent final season of Game of Thrones has some relevance here. The TV show’s immense popularity was born out of its stubborn insistence on confounding the dramatic expectations of its viewers. Starting with Ned Stark,and then some unfortunate members of his family, the traditional idea of the ‘Hero’s Journey’ (and the Stark’s as an avatar for the viewer in this) was boldly disregarded to the tears and wails of millions of viewers. There is something resembling ‘Stockholm syndrome’ in the approach taken by those above. The audience develops an alliance despite the clear indifference their captors demonstrate for their well-being. It seems that for the purposes of innovation it may be necessary to not be limited by customer expectations, especially when research suggests they are not so good at:
- Self-reporting reasons for past behaviour
- Predicting future behaviour
- Determining why and how they do what they do