Customer Development Requires a Willingness to Be Surprised

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Rules of Thumb

And by “surprised” I mean:

  • able to admit that your assumptions are wrong
  • open to new insights from prospects
  • willing to change your plans for your product or your startup
  • willing begin again with a better frame of reference

Inspired by Bob Lewis’ “Holiday Card to the Industry, 2010

In business we expend tremendous effort to avoid surprises. It wouldn’t be wrong to define professional management as the discipline of surprise prevention. The best-run businesses understand their marketplaces and inner workings well enough to predict the impact of every initiative they envision before they put them into practice.

This, in fact, is why business theorists have been so fascinated … obsessed might be a better term … with process design and management. Process is supposed to provide repeatable, predictable results.

But that isn’t where value comes from. Value comes from uniqueness, and from surprise.

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