If we are trying to innovate, what is our actual job?
According to Mark Earls in Welcome to the Creative Age, our job is to invent the future.
Seems reasonable to me. Here is how he build that argument:
…opinions are what you get back from customers once you’ve done something, so they are largely irrelevant to you. They aren’t the precondition for customers doing something or a good guide to what you should do. At all.
So don’t waste your time with ask/answer research and opinions. Throw away the reassurance of quoting the consumer or stats garnered from opinion polls. Watch your customers, observe them, live with them, but don’t expect them to tell you much themselves. Because they can’t.