Swimming laps at the local pool the other day and the old guy in the lane next to me offered some unsolicited advice. "Your kick, too inefficient. You are using too much energy. You need to go like this..." at which point he mimicked shallow, light movements with his hands.
I dismissed him as an old dude who couldn't swim very well. He was labouring up the lane with a lopsided breaststroke kick. What would he know?
Hmm. Hang on a minute. I did have a sense that my kick wasn't good, that it wasn't adding enough value for what it took to produce. Whoops! By discounting this man, I was falling into the same trap that as product and marketing managers we can sometimes find ourselves.
You know the one...ignoring what your consumers have to offer? Shrugging them off because they don't have credibility in your eyes? Afterall, we're the ones actually doing it! I mean, it's my kick/product/campaign so I should know best of all! Right?
You see, it can be easy to become arrogant in our product management. We are dealing with it everyday, and know our product inside and out. But that guy in the next lane, the one who isn't a great swimmer himself, can see a flaw in what I am doing. He sees inefficiency where I cannot. His perspective is clear, it is objective, and it is different.
So where does that leave us? Of course it's our choice what we do with the opinions and perspectives of our market. Some opinions are baseless and a distraction. But at least spend the next lap thinking about that opinion and your reaction to it. Maybe it's the just the kick you need to go to the next level.