Sunday, February 26, 2006

Be Humble. The Customer Should Always Think She's Right.

Let's face it. A good deal of the time, the customer is wrong. The customer just doesn't get the technical challenges stopping you from building her feature. The customer didn't take 3 seconds to just RTFM. And you... you just want to lay the smack down.

I spent a few minutes this morning catching up on my Bloglines clippings. One of the feed items I clipped was a Channel 9 video with the Microsoft Max team.

Last summer, I snuck into an intern presentation at work where Hillel Cooperman (one of my heroes at Microsoft) was giving a presentation on his new incubation project (Max). Very cool to see all the progress that kickass team is making.

So, after watching the video, I figured I'd surf around their blog and forum a bit, at which point, I came across this post:

Hello ,

I just finished installing your product, and might I suggest a final name for your MAX product.

VOMIT- would be very suitable, and actually happened once I used it, I wont comment further, other than give up your day jobs, and go back to QA or Beta Testing.

best regards


This team has been pouring their sweat and blood into building something from scratch for years. How many times have you spent 2+ years working on one one specific project (coding a single version of a software product, writing a book, painting a piece of art, ...)?

How would you respond to something like this? Would you delete it from your blog? Would you just ignore it? Would you succumb to the urge to get defensive and argue on behalf of yourself and your product?

I probably would.

How did Dave Citron of the Max team respond?

Hi LyinKing,

Sorry to hear you had trouble using Max. We definitely appreciate your name suggestion--it made for a good laugh :-).

If you provide additional information about the trouble you were seeing, we’d definitely like to investigate. Our team takes quality very seriously.

Dave (Max Team)

Wow. I'm humbled by this team's humility.

The product I work on is also v1, and I know that when it ships, it won't meet the needs of every potential customer, and it won't blow away the competing products that have been evolving for 10+ years. So, when I find myself in a situation like the one above, I hope I can look back and point out humble behavior like Dave's.


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