I’ve recently been "involved" in a number of discussions about the benefits of a software company being "Market Driven". After a very brief and rapid introduction to the term I believe this is the marketing version of software patterns, i.e. a a set of fancy names given to describe something everyone understands. Ok, as with my scathing hatred of software patterns I do concede they serve a useful purpose but I’m concerned that people seem to treat them both as a black or white subject. "My software uses a MVP pattern therefore I don’t allow any MVC patterns". "My company is Market Driven not Customer or Founder Driven". I think this is a very strange approach. Surely the sensible approach is take stimulus for ideas from all possible sources and make informed decisions? The Ipod is often held up as the marketing miracle of the 21st Century and lots of people have their ideas as to why it has been so successful. But I wonder how successful Apple would have been by simply listening to the market? Or do they also take a significant account of their own in-house ideas? Pete Mortensen has an interesting quote regarding the airline industry which I believe is very relevant, ‘But market demand is the expression of a shared human need that few marketers are meeting. The reward to anyone who identifies a big, unmet need is tremendous. Interestingly enough, Godin’s “Founder-Driven” category often fits this rubric as well, largely because Richard Branson is himself brilliant at identifying needs’.
So although I believe you can state that you are, "listening to the market" I don’t believe that requires you to say that you only Market Driven. I believe that a successful software company will utilize all the sources available; The Market, customer feedback (even if it requires a large amount of scepticism) and your own staff’s experience and clever ideas. What weight you choose to give to those opinions is up to the people making the decisions – that’s what they get paid to do!