Billionaire Mark Cuban, owner of The Dallas Mavericks, or as he likes to remind folks, “The World Champion Dallas Mavericks”, says it’s “part of every entrepreneur’s job is to invent the future”, it’s what he calls “kicking your own ass”.
In his book “How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It”, Cuban presents an example of a company (one that he is working with) that asked its customers what features they wanted, and then delivered those features to its customers. That turned out to be not such a smart idea.
As Cuban explains, “its competitors didn’t ask customers what they wanted. Instead, they had a vision of ways that business could be done differently and, as a result, better. Customers didn’t really see the value or need until they saw the new product. When they tried it, they loved it.” Then ironically, when Cuban’s company asked its customers a second time, what features do you want, they told them that they wanted the new features that the competitors were offering!
Of course Cuban doesn’t recommend that companies should just stop listening to their customers. Instead he suggests, “Your customers can tell you the things that are broken and how they want to be made happy. Listen to them. Make them happy. But don’t rely on them to create the future road map for your product or service. That’s your job.”
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