Is the customer always right?

Today I’m in London for the first day of SPA 2015. I was early to the venue and I went to the registration desk to sign in.

“What’s your name?” asked the receptionist.

“Seb Rose” I replied.

“No. You’re not registered” she said.

After a few minutes of spelling out my name, and searching around on the database she did find me. She looked up at me and said: “You are Rose, Sebastian”.

It’s true she was not a native english speaker, and that I have a slight accent, but even so I think you’ve got to assume that I know my own name. The reason I bring this up is that it’s something that happens a lot in all walks of life – people assume that the system is right, its data canonical. There’s no reason to believe this – it’s a form of institutional hubris.

Start from a more humble position. Accept the possibility of ignorance, the likelihood that the problem is rooted in the system not the customer. And even when it turns out that the customer is the cause of the error remember that it’s probably a failing of the system that allowed them to screw up anyway.

The customer is often right, and when they’re not it’s not good business to rub their nose in it.

By |June 28th, 2015|Musings|0 Comments

Always Be Coding

Last night I finally got around to watching Erik Meijer’s keynote from last year’s Reaktor conference. It was called “One Hacker Way” and, while it contains much that is apocryphal – or at least wildly inaccurate – it scores over the older, more pedestrian type of keynote in two important ways: first it is highly contentious, and second, Erik sports a bright, tie-dyed T-shirt.

Some of the highlights of this personal rant were:

“Agile is a cancer”
“TDD is for pussies”
Stand-ups eat into valuable coding time
Coders should be treated (and paid) like professional athletes
Hierarchical structures work for the army and the church, so they must be good

There were times that I found myself nodding in agreement, though – when he compared Scrum certification to a pyramid selling scheme, for instance – but mostly it was just opinion, conspicuously lacking the support of empirical data (which was one of his criticisms of agile).

I could go on, but if you’re still interested then I recommend you just go watch the video.

My final thought is that whole experience was vaguely reminiscent of a scene from the excellent movie “Glengarry Glen Ross”, where Alec Baldwin’s character harangues the dejected real-estate salesmen:
F*** YOU, that’s my name!! You know why, mister? ‘Cause you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight, I drove an $80,000 BMW. That’s my name!! And your name is “you’re wanting”. And you can’t play in a hacker’s game. You can’t write code. Then go home home and tell your wife your troubles. Because only one thing counts in this life! Checking in code! You hear me, you f***in’ faggots? A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Coding. Always be coding! Always be coding!
And, if you’re over 32 (when Erik […]

By |January 16th, 2015|Agile, doa, Musings, Practices, TDD, Unit testing|1 Comment