I liked the point made in this Quartz piece on Parrot, the French technology and drone business, about when not to listen to customers. We're drilled on the importance of continuous customer feedback but this is far less useful when we're originating something entirely new. It is of-course a myth that Apple don’t do research (as Mark Ritson pointed out recently), but Steve Jobs famously described the limitations of customer feedback when designing the new:
‘It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them’
Henri Seydoux, Founder and CEO of Parrott describes the times when they have no consideration of the user, and other times when they are extremely sensitive to user need:
‘When your idea is totally new, you cannot ask the user...if you ask people to dream with you, they not will understand with you, or the dream will not be serious.’
Seydoux relates the story of how an idea for a connected picture frame rapidly became over-complicated by focus groups who relayed all kinds of additional features that they wanted to the point where it became untenable. Yet for a developing or existing market, that is where continuous customer feedback comes into its own.