With the recent appointment of Marissa Mayer to lead Yahoo! in the news, Dotti Toellner (@dottitoellner) tweeted a link to a 2008 Fast Company piece on Mayer’s “9 Principles of Innovation.” Looking back at the story, I’d have to agree with Dotti that what Mayer talks about is “just as relevant” now as when the story was written (probably because four years isn’t that long, even in internet time).

You can read the full piece for yourself, but it’s best summarized as “launch early and often”; “ideas come from everywhere”; and, “if we focus on the users, the money will come.” That is, an emphasis on frequent, iterative response to market needs.

So far, so good. But there also seems to be an assumption that ideas will originate primarily from within the firm and evolve with input from the marketplace. To me, that’s placing the wrong source in the lead. An internally focused mindset can lead to opportunities missed and efficiencies squandered — exactly what Mayer needs to avoid at Yahoo!

I hope marketing research will play a more formative role in driving product development under Mayer’s lead. You can cut out a lot of the see-what-sticks testing that Mayer advocates by doing some simple, but smart, listening beforehand. Research shouldn’t occur only once the widget is built.