I hope this posting challenges some of your current thinking. If it does, please share it with others in your organization. It can be a great conversation starter (like a lot of the postings on this site!). If it does not challenge your current thinking or beliefs… think about why that is so.
There is a saying I’ve heard in the past that goes something like this:
“The farther away people get from the money, the less they live in reality.”
Think about this for a minute. I’ll wait (smile).
In most organizations I work with — no matter what the “size” — there always seems to be a divide (sometimes a chasm) between the “Business” versus the “IT” side of the house. This includes government clients and both for-profit and non-profit organizations.
When people in the outside world hear about this “divide” in an organization, eyes glaze over when I try to explain this.
Really. They don’t care.
They are consumers.
They buy your product or service.
If you are a Developer (this includes all the various roles like architect, tester, coder, and other names like that) let me ask you a serious question:
“When was the last time you picked up an industry trade rag or read a “real” business magazine or newspaper?”
The trade rags exist for every business domain out there.
Really. I have worked in many industries and there is at least one specific to your business no matter what you do.
This is scary but true.
I am not talking about technical journals (well… keep reading those AND start looking at the business perspective).
I am also not talking about Playboy (although they do have great articles and cool gadget reviews).
Think about resources like The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Fortune, Forbes, and others.
Why should Developers care about keeping in touch with what is happening in the business world?
Think about the statement I made above… About “Customers”…
“They don’t care. They are consumers. They buy your product or service.”
What does this mean?
Who are your Customers?
Most Developers I speak with about this answer, “The Business Side” of the organization (for example, Business Analysts or Sales or Support or some muckity-muck Vice President or other bigwig).
Your Customer in your organization is the person that pays for the ultimate product or service your organization sells.
Think about something simple, like umm…. Sugar. As a product.
[Side note: I have actually worked with a major company that produces sugar and now know more than I need to know about what they actually do to make and deliver it!].
There is a ton of stuff (from an IT and Manufacturing perspective) that goes into getting that five pound bag of sweetness into your pantry at home.
The people (Customers) who use the sugar want it for something specific… to make things sweet.
Do they even care — or even think — about what went into getting that sugar there?
Here is an answer that is tough for IT and Business people to swallow, but I am going to say it.
I may even go as far to say, “They do not care.”
They paid for a five pound bag of sugar and moved on with their life.
When they need more, they will get it from a neighbor or go to the store and get more. They consume it.
And are willing to pay for it.
This means your Customer is actually someone who has to part with their cash and put it into the organization bank account.
This is not…
… a budgetary or imaginary number.
… some mystical “divisional spend” you may receive.
… a VP or some higher up.
Think of it this way.
The customer could actually be YOU.
What if you looked at whatever you do to actually add value from the Customer perspective?
Would that change the way you work today (or tomorrow or the next day, week, or month)?
Why am I harping on getting out there and doing some reading about what is happening in your industry — or the business world — in general?
Why do you think?
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January 22, 2008