For the last 44 years I've laboured under the mistaken impression that the greatest track on "Blonde on Blonde" was "Stuck inside a mobile with those Memphis Blues Again". I pictured poor Bob trapped in a Memphis traffic jam getting depressed until suddenly twigging last week that he was referring to Mobile, the third biggest City in Alabama.
One of the best lines of this best song is : "Your debutante just knows what you need. But I know what you want."
Begging to differ, although he isn't a debutante, the great and gifted Steve Jobs of Apple said : "You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new."
That's very true. You can market research until you're blue in the face, but some of the greatest innovations have been inspired rather than mechanically produced from questions and answers. Penicillin, the flush toilet, the Sinclair ZX80 and the Ipod didn't come from Market research but from flashes of brilliance and inspiration coupled with hard graft.
It's a pity the politicians lining up for the forthcoming election don't chuck out their focus-group marketing and spinning and just apply some inspiration. It might just work.