Listening to the Customer vs. the HiPPO

Microsoft has an internal initiative to start running controlled experiments to determine what is actually better for users. I have no data (as I have no inside scoop from Microsoft, even though they are right down the road), but there is general opinion out there is that one of their latest efforts turned out to be less than impressive to the user community.

The mascot of this initiative is a hippo.

PERHAPS, and again, this is only speculation, when they were putting in all of the snazzy page flipping and rotating cube features, they were paying too much attention to the HiPPO and not enough to the actual customer.

What is the HiPPO?
The Highest Paid Person’s Opinon.

Who do you listen to?
Your customers? Do you actually go into the field and watch them use your product?
Do you use it the way they do, in their environment, to understand their experience?

Of does your head of engineering or sales claim to speak on their behalf when you are deciding on product features?

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