Had some great conversations with the workshop attendees on how PM teams are incorporating social media into their customer and market intelligence (including, but not limited to, requirements). Thanks to all who attended.

Interestingly, we spent a good deal of time talking about the type of questions people ask. In trying to make sense of both social media and PM deliverables, I made a distinction between problem-centric questions, which center on the customer, and product-centric questions, which (as the name implies) focus on the vendor's products and services.

In the technology industry, people are far more used to posing product-centric questions. Gradually, companies are learning the importance of the problem-related questions. However, it's easy to slip from one into the other. It reminds me of how I used to struggle with guitar fingering. As a novice player, I would concentrate for a while on keeping my fingers straight on the frets. Inevitably, as I started to think about other things (strumming, rhythm, etc.), I'd start to roll my fingers slightly to the side, which made it harder to hit the notes I was trying to reach.

Problem-centric questions are a lot like good fingering: it takes time, experience, and discipline to reach the point when you shake free of the bad habits. Obviously, there's a time and a place for product-centric questions, but not every time.

[Cross-posted at The Heretech.]