Scott Watermasysk

Still Learning to Code

Mavericks at Work

Note: As I have said before, I love to read and share my favorite books, but writing reviews can be boring. I am going to try a new approach and simply highlight an idea or two from a book and show how it has influenced a decision in my life and work. I think this will be a much more interesting approach, especially for business and life types of books.

“Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win”:“ is a great book. Similar to _”Think Big, Act Small": it is not full of “to be successful do this advice”. Instead the book highlights the success generated by folks who simply refused to adhere to the adage of “this is how you are supposed to do it”.

The folks over at 37Signals highlighted one of my favorite quotes (it nice to see someone else post a quote from a page you have dog-eared) from Mike McCue, co-founder of Tellme Networks (recounting his days at Netscape):

What I realized now is that you can never, ever take your eye off the customer. Even in the face of massive competition, don’t think about the competition. Literally don’t think about them. Every time you’re in a meeting and your’ re tempted to talk about a competitor, replace that thought with one about user feedback or surveys. Just think about the customer.

McCue’s advice is great and is something I have been trying to adhere to when it comes to Community Server, especially as it relates to features. We often get internal feature requests which go like this, “Product XYZ just released with feature ABC. We need ABC”. Feature ABC might be nice, but our customers are not asking for it, they have never mentioned it, and if adding it does not solve their most pressing needs or add great value it is usually wasted time (and additional complication). Focusing solely on features and competition is a Red Ocean Strategy" which in the end is a zero sum game. All products look the same, have similar pricing, and no real incentive to innovate, and they are usually very boring to boot.

The biggest changes we have in Community Server 2007 are all a direct result of customer feedback. They do not add a lot of extra lines to feature grid, but they improve the product in a very meaningful way, which I believe in the long run is the best thing we can do for our customers.