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The difference between qualified feedback and opinion in software development

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An issue that often arises during the early stages of a new software product is that different team members have varying ideas about the direction a feature, key messages or layout should take. Usually the product manager/entreprenuer has a pretty strong idea about the overall feature list, the functionality and the general look and feel of the software product.

However when it comes down to the details, often others (rightly, in my opinion) want to get in on the action. The sales guys may have contributions to make in terms of what feature customers want and what customers will pay for. Marketing may have insights into how to trigger action in certain key sections of the software.

Engineering may know what’s practical to implement and how to get to a minimum viable product in the most efficient way. Design may know when the user interface is losing simplicity/ ease of use and how to fix it.

My advice to product managers/entreprenuers … listen to what the people representing each part of your business has to say, especially in the areas where they are qualified to give an opinion.

A common mistake is to listen only to opinions from people most like yourself. So know thyself… are you an engineer, sales, marketing, design person by instinct? Once you know where your instinct is, start listening very closely to those people who represent what you are not.

If at the bottom of your heart, you could never really understand how someone could do sales day in, day out, spend more time listening to your sales team and realise how much they know about your customers.

If you listen hard enough, you are going to get qualified feedback from people who know that part of the business better than you do. On the otherhand, if you stay in your ‘happy place’ and only listen to feedback from people like you, your product is likely to be weak in the areas that you are weak in.

Qualified feedback versus opinion

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