Imagine you walked into a restaurant and the waiter told you there was no menu. Instead you could order absolutely anything you wanted and it would be delivered to your table. What would you order? Chances are you won’t think of anything like tripe and cuttlefish gratin or “meat fruit” (chicken liver parfait encased in a mandarin oriental gel and served with chargrilled sourdough) both of which are served at restaurants in London with two Michelin stars. Which will you enjoy more, the ham and cheese toasted sandwich that your brain just thought up or the labour of love that one of the world’s best chefs spent their entire career perfecting?
What has all this got to do with product development you ask? Well your customers are the restaurant clientele. If you ask them what they want, they’ll tell you what they think will solve their problem. For a hungry punter, it’ll be a ham and cheese toasty and for your customer it’ll be a quick fix their brain can think of.
What the restaurant owner and head chef do is listen to what their customers want (they won’t be serving fresh cow dung any time soon) but take that knowledge as input to create something better that any of their customers could think of. By using your knowledge as a product expert and your customer’s knowlege as an expert in their field, you can create something that transcends traditional thinking in the space and that is something really valuable.