“When people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”

– Neil Gaiman

The choir of voices claiming something is broken sings a truthful tune. They’re the users, the customers, the people with boots on the ground. When their echoes resonate with a problem, believe them. It’s like a barometer of the storm—it doesn’t lie.

Yet, when those same voices start mapping out the route to the solution, tread lightly. Their compass may not point true north. Not because of ill-intent, but because they’re tangled in the thickets of their own experiences, limitations, and perspectives. Like hikers lost in a dense forest, their sight is often clouded by the closest trees.

Navigating the labyrinth of problem-solving isn’t a stroll in the park. It requires the eyes of an eagle and the wisdom of an owl. It’s about piecing together a jigsaw puzzle in the dark, with only a faint torchlight of insight.

Remember, your customers can spot a leak in the ship. They are drenched by the water it lets in. But when it comes to patching the hole, it’s the shipbuilder, not the passenger, who holds the necessary skill and perspective.

So, listen keenly when they shout “land ho!”, but take the helm when it’s time to steer the ship to the shore.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.