Would you let someone design your house without talking to them first? Of course not! How could they possibly know what you need from your living spaces and what aesthetics you enjoy without at least one conversation.
So, why do we keep building products without talking to anyone? Let’s say the quiet bit out loud: we can’t possibly build products that are useful, let alone delightful, if we don’t frequently talk to the people who’ll use it.
I can already hear a million PMs crying out, “we just need to ship, we’ll get this MVP out the door and then we can figure everything out!”
Could you imagine randomly building houses until you landed on something that worked? In this economy?! Of course we don’t do this – just the thought of the wasted resources, money, and time is giving me hives.
“BuT hOuSeS aRe NoT tHe SaMe As SoFtWaRe.” You’re right, software takes way more time and money to build than a house – it’s no wonder the median seed round size in Q3 2022 was $3.3M1 while the median home price was $398,5002.
“But but, we’re busy! There’s no time to talk! We’ve got OKRs and deadlines and other manufactured demands on our time that prevent us from doing work that’ll matter.“
I’ll give you that – you are busy. I’ve been on teams where we were busy too, and you know what we did? We ran a looong way in the wrong directions. We ran so far that we ran out of money, out of time, out of patience.
I don’t beat myself up that this happened, everyone in product runs the wrong way at some point – it’s one of those lessons you have to experience yourself before it sinks in.
But, what does bother me is that if we had just talked with some people who had the problem we were trying to solve, then we could have:
- heard how they were already solving the problem
- seen the issues they had with their current solution
- understood that this problem wasn’t very large relative to the other problems they had
- realized we were building something that wasn’t needed
- found a better path
Ultimately, life’s too short to build products people don’t want, and the only way to find out what people want is to talk to them. So, get out there, talk to some users, and build a product people want to use.