0017: Don’t Recommend Anything To Anyone Without Doing This First.

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Hey there, hero!

I was forwarded a post on Facebook that the person who sent it to me thought I might find interesting, and for which I might have a useful answer: a question about what mic to use.

And as I was about to answer, I scanned the other answers to make sure I could add value, and…I was shocked.

What I saw made me realize the mistake I and others have been making (and every single response in the thread I was looking at made the same mistake).

I say, let’s fix this right now. Here’s the one thing we all need to do before making any recommendations to anyone.

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  1. Good call! I think the ease of posting comments has diminished peoples’ patience and thoughtfulness, and it has enabled knee-jerk opinions to become the norm. Hence why so many comment threads inevitably devolve into arguments that have nothing to do with the original topic.

  2. Right. The bottom line is that there is no “one size fits all.“ As much as you might like to, you cannot make a recommendation until you have ascertained the values of several variables, like the ones you mentioned. You can’t solve the equation without plugging in the values for these variables! In the end, it isn’t an exact science.

    Remember: It’s not about *you*! It’s about the asker, and his or her specific case. If you only answer with what works for you, you will have done them a disservice.

  3. Awesome advice!!! You’re awesome David, I’ve been watching you since before your 365 day challenge and I think you’re just a total gem! Thanks for all the inspiration.

  4. Señor DHL. MY mistake would be saying (to you) something like “DUH. Of course you ask questions first!”. (and currently snorting out loud at the mere image of that happening) But, as you say, that is not an obvious first choice for anyone wanting to help out or voice your own opinion. My next mistake would be going on and on about this, so I’ll just stop now. Many thanks.

  5. Great reminder. I done both. And not sure why I don’t remember to ask the questions first. Sometimes even when just talking about things generally though, in my head i’m explaining my reason for something and then realize, oh sorry, this is why I’m asking. lol. shrug

  6. Agreed David! In fact, as a product designer and engineer, the first thing we need to ask is “what is the problem we’re trying to solve” – “what do customers *need* (not necessarily want)”. Extensive customer interviews are required to really get a successful product to market. This is very tough to do right, but is the first step to great products and services; observed in 30 years of my career. Too many corporate marketing departments and executive managers think they know what a customer “wants”, spend a ton of money on R&D, only to fail in the market. Great advice – thanks for sharing!

  7. David – that is spot on! As a product designer and engineer for 30 years, the biggest mistake most corporations make in getting a product to market is thinking they *know* what the customer *wants*, instead of asking “what is the problem we are trying to solve?” It takes 100s of hours of excruciating interviews, surveys, and even “walk a real day in their shoes” to pull out what they *need*. Great post – thanks for sharing!