Listening up means spending time actually talking to your customers, about not just their “wants” and “needs” but about their hopes and fears, their opportunities and threats, their greatest achievements and biggest regrets. It’s not just about sating immediate desire with lowest-common-denominators, outsourced from the lowest bidder — it’s about learning to help people achieve long-term fulfillment, in inimitable, enduring, resonant ways that rivals can’t.
I love Umair Haque’s Listening Up Manifesto (the above quote is taken from the expanded version he wrote for HBR). It is a fantastic, succinct reminder of what I should do and how I should be doing it.
It’s an article I try to return to on a regular basis, along with Tim O’Reilly’s Work on Stuff that Matters: First Principles. Of course, if I’m pressed for time, I can always review Dan Pink’s Four-Word MBA