Why Your User Is Your Greatest Product Designer

At Healthiecare we are building Trill, an intelligent mobile technology that provides behavioral health support to millennials through peer-to-peer and expert networks. Jason Dunne is a product-focused entrepreneur currently pursuing his Masters in Interactive Telecommunication at NYU Tisch.

All too many entrepreneurs set out to build a product in the model of the lone genius toiling away in his studio until the perfect product emerges. Nice idea, but DaVincis are far too rare for this technique to be the status quo. We live in a different era. Innovation no longer comes from a quick spark of a clever idea, but instead from a set of collective conversations.
But who fosters the most productive collective conversations around product?
Your first guess might be your Chief Product Officer (or whatever fancy title you've opted for) and her/his brilliant brain trust of product managers, designers, and engineers. And you'd be right, to an extent. In an ideal world, the team you've hired is perfectly tuned into your value proposition, and is setting out to build the world's best solution to the burning problem your company has set out to tackle.
But if Summer LaunchPad at the Leslie eLab has taught me anything, it's the vital importance of letting the user do the talking.
It's then your job to translate any and all learnings from those conversations into the best-matched product for your customer segment. With our team inching up on 300 interviews over the past year, we've learned and relearned everything from how to approach our pricing strategy, customer segment shifts, more mutually beneficial partnerships, to our customers' stances on the existing offerings in the market.
These vital insights pushed the conversation forward significantly faster than any other method, and the results of those conversations are visible in every product feature we built this summer.
Sure, Henry Ford is said to have paid little attention to his customer's requests, famously expecting his users to ask merely for a faster horse rather than a revolutionary car. But we're in different times now. Entrepreneurs now have unbridled access to users' feedback, in a time where the customer's appetite for participation is massive. Ford offered the Model T in the limited palette of green, grey, blue, or red. At Healthiecare, we're giving our users the power to paint their car whichever color fits their personality best.
The lone genius entrepreneur is a vintage concept. We are social animals. Embrace your users' innate ability to shape your product.