A pretty eventful week, primarily because we had Mark Brezina over from Florida for the week. Actually he was in Windsor for a training course, but decided to extend his trip to include the weekends before and after his training. We managed to get him over to Andy and Lou's place Saturday night, since Mark is also a good friend of Andy's from our time in Australia.
Andy and Lou cooked us up a fantastic curry and we just talked long into the night. The only short break was to get the highlights of the New Zealand vs India cricket (New Zealand won) and the Montreal Grand Prix qualifiers.
I, of course, am still anxiously awaiting my work permit. It's now been almost seven weeks with the government, so I'm hoping it comes soon. There are a lot of purchases I have been putting off until we've got more steady income. Oh well, its just one of the things with working in Europe. I've been relaxing most days, nothing too special. I picked up a used copy of the computer game, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, which has taken up a bit of my time as well.
On a totally different note something dawned on me recently that I thought was quite interesting. It has to do with the fact that most people believe that for a company to do well it should be customer driven. Well, I've come up with an idea on this topic. A short story first though.
When Sarah and I were driving through the Highlands of Scotland one evening, I decided to take the long scenic route back to our bed and breakfast. I'm not sure why I did at the time, especially since it was getting too dark to truly appreciate the scenery, and we were quite tired. In any case it wasn't until we were around half way back to the bed and breakfast when it happened. We rounded a bend and from behind the mountains appeared the largest, brightest and reddest moon we have ever seen. It was a sight to behold.
It wasn't until recently that I worked out exactly why I wanted to take the scenic route. In my years of life I have learned that not all beautiful sights are on an agenda, or a map, or in a guide book. Sometimes they happen to me in the weirdest places and the most unlikely times. And that is exactly why we took the scenic route. There wasn't anything specific to see, I just knew that by taking the long way home we would be increasing the probability of seeing something amazing.
So, how does this relate to my views on the customer driven method of running a company? Well, it's always easy to ask a customer exactly what he/she wants. Or, to get a specification clearly spelt out. Or expectations enumerated in the contract. This would lead to a truly customer driven way of working. Unfortunately, I don't believe this is the best way to succeed. The group doing the actual work are the experts, they know the most, have the best experience, and are the most trained. By asking a customer exactly what they want is bypassing all those advantages. From my previous story, this would be like taking the quick way home.
Sometimes a customer might want to say, "I don't know what I want." Or perhaps they may respond with a very vague set of goals. Instead of trying to get the customer to narrow down their goals, sometimes, I think, its better to just do what you do best and see what happens. Why specify something, when by not doing so you open yourself up to opportunities that may be truly much better than anything the customer could ever have asked for?