This is a good story, Ask not… from Jeff Jarvis on BuzzMachine. It makes a very important business point.

“I was talking with a good news exec who’s trying to build a new kind of local news product but it was only hours after I got off the phone that I figured out how I should have told him what he’s really doing.

He talked about the community helping his company build a product. He should turn that around and ask instead how he can help the community build its network.

I’ve written about empathy as a driving force in good business. This is related.

When this thing is built–not a product, not a company, but perhaps a network or a looser ecosystem–it will work only when and if the community owns it. That’s why this news exec must help them build it. If he expects them to help him build his thing, they won’t–they’re building their own thing instead.

There’s something absolutely fundamental about that. Do what your users want, not what you want. Do it from the outside in.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.