“You are not your customer” – organizational insult

One of the motos that has gotten embedded in corporate culture is “You are not your customer” as an engineer I see this all the time.  A designer builds something, engineering looks at it and says “but…”.  A manager responds with the flip, “The designer is the professional, you’re not the customer”.

With an attitude like that the message is abdicate your responsibility and focus on your job.  How can you build as successful company if all you do is your job, we need to think outside our role, challenge assumptions and build great products.  Since this is Steve Jobs week, he is noted for playing many roles he challenges the assumption that “you are not your customer”.  He is the customer he cares, if I’m building any product I need to put on my customer hat and think what I’m looking for.

How do you challenge “your are not your customer”?  You don’t need to challenge it, you need to demonstrate a care for the product, understand the use (and user) and live in their shoes.  It’s a form of empathy, we’ve been wired for thousands of years to care.  Bring up your experience, your understanding, your passion for great products.