Stop deciding what people want

Google’s the perfect example of a company that has a great ability to make meaningful products, but, like never before, they produce concepts that force non-existing behaviors into people’s lives.

It was funny to read Michael Arrington’s  post this morning and I remembered this idea that Professor Clayton Christensen expressed during his “Jobs to be done” talk , that companies shouldn’t decide what people want, but fulfill existing needs.

“I would say, without any background or substance, that the probability of any software company to be successful is somewhere near 0(zero) if the concept was developed in a company that has decided what the customer wants. And you develop a product and then you find that people don’t buy it so then you have to hire, I don’t know if you ever heard of people like this, they’re called marketers :). And the reason you have to have a marketer is you’re trying to convince the customer that they need to buy the product that you decided they need. If instead you understand the job the customer’s trying to do, you actually don’t need much marketing because customers will pull it into their lives. And almost always, those companies had somebody that was on the other side who knew the job. And it’s understanding the job that’s critical, in short supply. It’s not the ability to make products.”

I don’t think it’s about Facebook finally treating it’s users as customers. It’s about Google that’s developing ideas that are intended to shape user’s needs, as opposed to fulfilling them.