One of Mark Zuckerberg’s fundamental tenets of doing business is his “Hack #4” which states, “Know what your users want better than they do.”

Facebook’s News Feed feature was debuted in September 2006.  Almost 10% of Facebook’s 9 million users at the time revolted against the new tool.  Although Zuckerberg apologized for the manner in which the company communicated the change, he did not back down.  He simply passionately believed he knew better than his users what they wanted.  Time has proven him correct.

There can be a fine line between Hack #4 and arrogance.  While it is important to listen to customers and seriously consider their input, we cannot always give them what they want.  Sometimes what they want isn’t good for them.  Sometimes what they want isn’t the best we can give them.  Sometimes they don’t know what they really want.  Sometimes they are hoping we will tell them what they want.

It seems to me the trick here is to have enough vision and business insight so you can embody Hack #4, while simultaneously maintaining open communication channels that potentially add value.  Knowing what your customers want better than they do means really knowing your customers and really knowing your business.

This is a tall order indeed, but it is a profitable one too.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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