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@Denis - it is much easier to know what you don't want, or at least it sounds like it would be. Sometimes though we throw away the baby with the bathwater and reconsider when something takes off. Social proof that something is cool has everything to do with adoption.

@Carl - I've seen that phrase attributed to Ford, yes. And indeed we don't know what we want until we see it, or we see someone else using it.

@Maria - we see the world as we are, hence the value of asking and testing. Research will give us more data points to make smart decisions.

@Amy - good example on the Aeron. Do you think that part of the allure is that it's become associated with the entrepreneur who makes it? I do wonder.

@Seth - I'm familiar with IDEO's work and will search for that article. We should not discount our own experience - gut and intuition are part of that, rather inform it with external data points.

@Adam - we're in the knowledge economy, but we used to be in the industrial age and we're still by and large using that model today - to manage, and to produce. However, more and more we find that there are new services and products that get that very same job done in other ways. Often companies don't see those competitors until it's too late because they didn't focus on the job getting done.

Totally agree when you say that we have to throw away everything you know about your product and service. I think that identifying "who" your customers are is the most important task. We should then try to find out as much as we can about them and then, design our product. Many companies get it wrong by first designing the product and pushing it to the customers who didn't want it in the first place. These companies are still in the product or selling era when we are supposed to be in the ear of customer relationship.

Great piece. Along the same lines, there's a great article by IDEO's Jane Fulton Suri about how/when to use data to "inform our intuition. (not letting me post the link, but if you Google the following, it should be the first result: "informing our intuition" ideo)

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