Don’t ask, observe. Understanding your users is the foundation of the design process. Take the time to observe people in the context where your design will live. What job are they trying to get done? How are they doing it right now? What frustrates them?
Prototype, test, iterate. Use rapid prototyping to quickly test assumptions. The wisdom of the designer must be verified against real-world use.
Everything is user experience. UX must be a deeply-held perspective that fundamentally shapes the work of the product team. Every point at which a customer interacts with a product must be designed with care.