Give them the Demo they Need, not the One that they Want

Ask anyone what their problem is and they will tell you exactly how they want to solve it and make it go away.

I could easily come up with a few of my own problems and solutions to them, but their wrong. It’s not that I don’t trust myself,

It’s not that I don’t trust myself, it’s that they are framed by own view as to how I perceive the problem. In that frame, whether I want to accept it or not, I have already inferred a number of assumptions important to me, but perhaps not relevant to the problem at hand – either based on my own perceptions, personal

In that frame, whether I want to accept it or not, I have already inferred a number of assumptions important to me, but perhaps not relevant to the problem at hand – either based on my own perceptions, personal decision-making framework, and/or environment.

That’s why when working with a customer, it’s important to dig deep to understand the problem they are trying to solve before suggesting solutions and platforms that could fix their problem.

Customers don’t always want to hear this because they “know best” for the very same reason that I know the answers to all of my own problems – by the framework and worldview that surrounds me. Sure there will always be some aspects of alignment but it’s important to not take this at face value.

So how do you get a customer to buy into seeing the demo they need?

  1. Show them what they believe their problem to be, get them to agree to what has been discussed with their team during a requirements session.
  2. Show them what their problem really is and watch.

Did you get it right? Did you get it wrong?

Perhaps – but did you start the conversation to go deeper?

That’s the goal.

In the end, it’s about starting that conversation of what they need vs what they think they want and moving forward to solve the real problem.

And it’s not solely for customers either – take the word customer and replace it with “team”, “colleague”, “project”, etc.

Refactor your Workspace

Of all the peeves that drive developers crazy, it’s messy code, cluttered code, code that works, but is not as good as it could be.

When we’ve finally had enough – we Refactor it and clean it up.

When we check in that refactored code, most likely it breaks a slew of sloppy code somewhere else, so we go fix that.

And we keep doing that – build, fail, clean, build, fail, clean – practice because at the end of the day; clean, organized code is gorgeous to look at and aligns perfectly to the vision in our heads.

But as I look at my desk, I realize it’s as cluttered as some of that sloppy code and it’s starting to take up space in my head as it doesn’t align with the vision I want.

All these things poking out at me, tea cups here and there, sticky notes reminding me what to focus on, notes all over the place – it clutters my mind, clutters my goals, clutters my direction.

When this happens, just like in code, it’s time for a Refactor to clean it up and reset.

Developer skills becoming Life skills!

The Critic and the Cobbler

The Cobbler works at his craft, taking on all the activities required to build a really great shoe. When complete they know it inside and out and can talk enthusiastically about what they’ve created for hours and days on end. They are not simply satisfied with the act of having been completed in creating a shoe, but in creating a unique shoe for someone to use. The imperfections in the craft are what make it attractive, functional and distinct from everything else in the marketplace.

The investment of time is not of concern because the Cobbler isn’t a factory, they are an artist, with a craft, focussed on creating something incredible that will not only satisfy their customers but them as well. Their level of ownership in this endeavor is through the roof as is their love for what they are doing.

When shipped, delivered, purchased or handed off to the customer – they want to be there for the first time the customer tries it on and uses it. If they fall, fantastic, the Cobbler is there to tweak and give back to the customer so they can try again (and perhaps again). When success comes to the customer, they instantly appreciate and recognize the efforts of the Cobbler in what they have created for them.

And the Critic?

If you have all of the above, does it really matter what the critic thinks?

Can we Automate this?

No.

Not everything needs to be automated, not everything should be automated.

Did you find your way to work okay today?

Did you take an unexpected turn to get a coffee and satisfy that inner desire for one?

Not everything needs a process, not everything needs to be the same, it just needs to accomplish the goal you have in mind.

Sometimes the grind, the grunt work and the non-automated processes are what lead to our greatest ideas.  Sometimes it’s that last second flip of our decision to try something new that yields the biggest gains in our lives.  And sometimes our best experiences with others come from the manual tasks we have to perform – the deployments that go wrong, the tricky bug fixes or the waiting for a callback?

Automation is great, but we shouldn’t sacrifice our best interactions to for it.

Everything is an Experiment

As we progress in our careers and rise through the proverbial ranks we must never forget to stop and look back.

Whether it’s a new process, idea, suggestion, etc, we must always have the strength and desire to look back – analyze what went right or wrong and identify what we can borrow from that experience to get better for the next one.

A good way to think of this is to take every process, idea, suggestion and classify them as experiments. By immediately labeling them as such our paradigm shifts from being concerned about it being a success or failure to instead being concerned if we don’t finish and later identifying was it a success or failure.

What worked?

What didn’t?

What do we need to change next time around?

Once we start to see everything we do from an angle of experimentation, the pressure, stress and concern over success and failure melts away and we focus on simply doing our best without worrying about any missteps.

Scientists have been doing this for decades, their first try is never their last and they know it going in, the rest of us simply need to catch up.