The answer is not inside the building

Too many of us spend far too much time in the building.

We sit at our computers and read blogs and write emails; we discuss in conference rooms and over coffee, sometimes even at the cafe down the street. But how much time do we actually spend outside the building?

Your customers are not in the building. You won’t find them lurking by the water cooler and you probably won’t see them at Starbucks.

I don’t know exactly how much of their time a product manager should spend outside the building – but my gut tells me it’s something like 20 or 30%. How else can you get close to the needs and wants of your customers, first-hand and in-the-flesh?

If you’re looking for insights into your market, you’re really not likely to find them by reading blogs or watching Twitter. Sure, some gems come along over the social channels, but the real insights are waiting for you out there – with people.

Do yourself (and your product) a favour and get out of the building this week. Go and talk to a customer or meet an industry partner. Run a panel, inviting some of your most vocal advocates (or detractors!). Attend a think tank or a networking event relevant to your industry.

Because the answer to your problem is probably not inside the building.