Have you heard this one before – I have – internal pundits claiming they know what the market wants because at one point in time (read “eons” ago, before your market segment even existed), they used to be in the customer’s shoes.
“Hey, I used to do product design”
“I used to be a salesman”
“When I used to run YYYY department”
they say ….
I have found a quick counterattack for this –
“Great, when did you do that?”
“In 1997, I used to work at XYZ Co.”
“Hummm, 11 years ago – so you mean to tell me that the world has remained stagnant and nothing has changed in those 11 years – did I hear that right? (OK, not exactly in the words above, but you get the point).
That usually stops this “we have answers here in the building” or “the way I did is how the world works”.
Yes, there are certain product decisions that you have to make drawing on your past experience, but saying that we know what to build because I was a customer once, is nothing but a recipe for failure – especially in the high tech arena, where the way you did it last month is probably not valid anymore.
It amazes me how many companies claim to be customer driven, but then they limit their product managers from traveling because the travel budget is tight, but on the other side the product development budget is a big leaky bucket funding products no one will ever want to buy.