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Archive for May, 2009

Building Systems to Scratch Your Own Itch

I am a hacker.  (“Hacker” in the sense of programmers who really love to create things in code, NOT people trying to break into the CIA)   It is said in hacker circles (specifically in several essays by Paul Graham) that the best software is that which hackers write to scratch their own itch.   Why is that?  Because they are their own users.  It is the rare and magical combination in software development of (1) knowing exactly what is needed and (2) being able to create it.  If anything is cumbersome or annoying, they can fix it.  If a little shortcut is an obvious time saver, they can put it in.

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On Transparency

The four of us had a most excellent experience this weekend, and that was attending the Big Omaha conference: a gathering of entrepreneurial-minded tech folk.  Attendance covered the gamut from established thought leaders in the field to freelancers who just quit their job eager to create something themselves.

As a group of creatives on the verge of launching our first web app, we felt right at home.

Jeffrey Kalmikoff’s presentation on transparency was a real hit with all of us.   He posited the big question: “what does it take to be so genuine and authentically connected with your customers that you could screw up big time and have them still love you?”  There are a couple of things that  jumped out at me when looking at that:

  • Never trying to appear as though you are something you are not. We’ve been a team of only 3 or 4 for a while now, but Lord knows the earliest drafts of our design agency website tried to pass us off as big and corporate.  Turns out we never needed to be: appearing big and deeply established never got us a job, being talented, commited and reliable did.
  • Being accessible. Allowing a two-way rapport with customers, with emphasis on the two-way: if our customers take the time to give us feedback or comments, we owe it to them to give a thoughtful reply.
  • Publicly owning up to mistakes. Nothing makes failure on someone’s part more painful than having it come with some song and dance trying to hide or justify the problem.  Being open and responsible about mistakes can turn an “us-vs-them” situation into a collaborative community effort to work out a resolution.

It may go without saying given all the above, but for the record I’ll say it plain:

We want to have that kind of relationship with the Coaching community.

While sitting out at the wine tasting rap party at the Big Omaha we came up with a few ideas on how to cultivate just that.  Stay tuned.  In the mean time I invite you to do the same: take a little time sitting outdoors (possibly with a glass of wine) and think about how you could foster such relationship with your clients and the communities you serve.  I’d love to hear what you come up with.