"They would have said faster horses” ...the greatest example of asking wrong questions
Don't ask for solution. Ask for problem.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
―Henry Ford (most likely not him)
I have heard this quote a lot. Usually, I hear that from people who build an app/product/software without a market validation. A product that will solve no man’s problem.
Well, I also used to think this is a simple yet genius quote. Then, I learned that my product should solve someone’s problems.
What is actually the problem with this quote?
It might make you think that Henry Ford did not have to listen to the crowd. He just made what he believed is right, and no one could validate his idea. Why? Because people knew about horses, not about cars.
No one could think about cars at that time. Correct.
The question itself is not completely wrong either. However, when you hear back “I need a faster horse” you should think. The key here is FASTER, not horse.
“I need a faster way to transport” — is what you should hear.
If someone asks me the same question right now, I might answer “teleport”. But, if you have another way to make me appear in Copenhagen within a second that still works. Even if your solution has nothing to do with teleportation.
Jut ask “What is your top problem?”
Henry Ford has solved a problem. It was a faster way to get from point A to point B.
P.S. This article is not GPT-3 generated
Jut ask “What is your top problem?” - typo
People will answer this question in the form of imagined solutions and/or improvements to existing systems, so it's not a matter of simply asking a different question, it's a matter of digging into the answers and needs.