Indifference

Lately I’ve been thinking about Elie Wiesel’s quote on love and hate. “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference” he says.

In software circles, we talk a lot about trying to create products people love. Like, really love. Love to the point you can’t wait to tell your friends. You’ve likely experienced this—an app so good you were excited to bring it into someone’s life.

Logically then, if the goal is Love, a product team might try hard to avoid making changes or additions that people hate. But more than hate, I think the bigger risk is making something to which people are indifferent.

Why not focus on hate? For starters, eliciting hate is actually quite hard to do if the product team is competent. Even talking with your customers once a week should steer you clear of danger.

Indifference on the other hand is a product killer. Building something that doesn’t even register an emotional response eliminates the opportunity to learn. And a product team that cannot quickly learn—and then iterate to learn again—is a team that will slowly bring growth and progress to a halt.

So when we think about the big risks of building products, we should consider indifference towards the top of the list. You can learn from love or hate. But the moment you sense indifference from your customers you need to reconsider the core problem you’re trying to solve.

If you don’t, I can promise you’ll hate what happens next—even if your customers don’t care.