bag of chips

Bag of Chips (part 3 of 3)

  I have nothing to say today (The visit) The first thing to do in order to better understand your customer is to stop talking.  I find this very hard to do.  I love to talk (and talk and talk).  While in high school and traveling home for 5 hours in a bus from a church group sitting by a girl who, I was convinced, was the most amazing creature alive, we had a lively discussion and I loved it.  She agreed to go out with me at the end.  Why?  Because she had never been with someone who could … Read more

bag of chips

Bag of Chips (part 2 of 3)

  I Want It All, For Free (Questions) Over the years there have a been a steady stream of ‘proven systems’ for understanding customer needs. In most cases they attempt to format every question so that it produces numerical, weighted answers.  These answers are then added, multiplied, and weighted some more to produce composite weighted nonsense. There is a better way. There are essentially three kinds of questions and they relate very closely to the three kinds of surveys discussed in the previous section.  Each question is asked differently, the data is collected differently, and the results are collated differently. Question … Read more

bag of chips

Bag of Chips (part 1 of 3)

This article was written in 2006 as an essay for product managers at Genie.  Although originally titled Conducting Customer Surveys, due to a formatting error, it took on the title of the first section, A Bag of Chips.  It continues to be timeless in its application, philosophy and approach to understanding customer wants, needs, and market opportunity. A Bag of Chips (Introduction) I decided I needed to, as the new Engineering Team Leader, to get a feel for our customers.  I was new to the company, the market, the team, and our dealers.  For reasons which completely escape me now, … Read more

3-Step Communication

Three sentences, Three Minutes, then maybe More “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead” -Mark Twain – What was your first clue? As a technical professional there is a good chance that you make decisions based on understanding the full set of facts, data and as much information as you can take in. But your non-technical or technical but leadership audience generally does not work this way.  In fact, too much information annoys them, makes them suspicious of your motives or results in them cutting you off.  You must quickly get … Read more