On his deathbed Steve Jobs told Tim Cook not to worry about what he would do, but instead do what was right for Apple, or so the story goes. A great piece of advice.
Now that Steve is dead, what he would or wouldn’t do isn’t knowable. Trying to guess is a Ouija board exercise in futility. The same thing happens when you spend a lot of time thinking about what your customers say they want or what your investors think.
Not at all. Much like channeling Steve Jobs from beyond the grave, predicting what any individual stakeholder will do at any point in time is almost impossible. All the market research in the market or ever-bigger Big Data datasets won’t help.
The only thing you can control is what you and your company does. If you know what you believe, then you’ll know the right things to do. And those customers, stakeholders, and employees who believe as you believe will continue to join in your vision for the future. Those that don’t, won’t travel that road with you. And you have to be OK with that.
How do you know, however, if your vision is commercially viable? After all, you are in business to turn a profit. The answer is to interact with the market early and often, in exchange for money. It’s only then that you’ll know if the price, performance, and features are acceptable.
Takeaway: Don’t worry so much about what “they” want. Understand your beliefs, bring them to life and see who agrees.
RIP Steve Jobs.