Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Little Too Polite?

When I go to the East Coast, I can't help but observe the diiferences with the West Coast. And, because I'm invariably renting a car and giving a bad reputation to every person not from Boston, it always strikes me how many honks I receive in a town on the East Coast versus here in Seattle. Now, it could be I'm simply a better driver in Seattle, or progressively worse with each timezone I cross. Could be.

It could also be people are more ready with the horn in a town like Boston (not to pick on Boston, its a lovely town, but I think I've received more honking per hour of driving there than anywhere else). At first I was taken aback since it was so outside my norm. However, whenever I return from the East Coast (re: Boston), I find myself just a little quicker on the horn myself.

At first I thought I was being less polite, and a case could be made I'm being less polite to the person I'm honking at. However, most of the honking on the East Coast occurs when I'm pausing in a rotary trying to figure out if I need to turn right here, or continue on another 237 feet (at 50 mph mind you). Similarly, I've only just started using the horn when I'm stuck in a lineup and I see a cell phone in one hand and a grande latte in the other. In this case, I think its appropriate to honk and let the person know they should put their cell phone down, make their right turn and finish their grande (Full Disclosure: My wife, kids and I are Starbucks shareholders, so please, next time make it a venti-- it's for the kids).

However, when I really feel empowered to honk is when there's a lineup behind me. The more cars behind me, the more I feel its my civic duty help move things along in the name of commuters everywhere.

What does this have to do with Project Management Software? I'm here to tell you software companies like it when you honk at them, not just Project Management companies, but all companies-- especially the smaller, highly impressionable ones like mine. You could say honking is how software improves in this world, no matter what coast you live on (or in between too).

I'm not saying you should identify every techno geek and honk at them, or furtively drive through Microsoft's campus and lay on the 'Aaaooooooga'-- this will not help software quality.

But emailing the company with your thoughts, participating in their forums or, possibly the most powerful form of digital honking, posting your experience to a blog is a very, very good way to get things moving. No company wants something akin too AOL cancellation posted on the web-- at least not a company that wants to grow.

Contrary to popular opinion, no news is not good news. No news is the absence of news, which is the absence of information. Which means if you need to make decisions for your product, you are making them with no other information than you're own gut. And while truthiness may work for some things, turns out it's not so good for making customers happy.

And I'm not talking about polite 'gosh, you're product is swell'. What I want is a good HONK along the lines of 'you're product is awful... and I'll tell you why.' This last part is the most important, because honkers tell it like it is.

The result will be a product that is better and makes more people happy. This is what I want, you want, and all of humanity wants. Kind of like when you honked last Wednesday to get that SUV moving and free 10 cars behind you. Not only did you help your cause, but you performed a civic duty helping those in the same situation.

So please, give us a HONK.

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