Thursday, September 17, 2009

Live Oak Well Received ... No Surprise Here

I've worked in the software industry for nearly a decade and a half, and in that time I've seen more than a dozen all-new, innovative, rewritten versions of products deployed to all types of industries and customers. I've seen warm welcomes for bugs finally fixed, seen excitement at new features, even heard a bit of applause here and there. I have, however, never seen the type of enthusiastic reception for a new and improved version of a product that I saw today. Quite simply, I've never seen a developer get a hug from a customer, and I've never felt the level of excitement I felt in the room today.

See, I've worked for years on the support side of a product, the people that listen to the customers, the people that work with the customers through problems and sometimes get the unfortunate job of telling the customer "no, I'm sorry, there's no good way to do that." We, in support, know better than most in the company what our subscribers want, what our subscribers need, and, in most cases, what frustrates our subscribers the most. Historically, though, I've fought a disconnect, a difference of goals between the support organization and the development staff. To varying degrees, in attempting to advocate the subscriber, I've always run into a simple feeling from developers that they know better than I do what needs to be done to make the people who do the work happy.

Imagine my surprise at coming to BoardDocs some 18 months ago and finding an environment with a simply amazing focus on the subscriber, the CUSTOMER, you... Every facet of management, every bit of decision making is made with the subscriber in mind. At least on the support side of the house. As we rolled further into the development cycle and features started getting finalized, decisions started being locked in, I continued to be amazed at the attention paid to the subscriber. Ari has solicited feedback from everyone that works with subscribers, not at intervals, or at decision points, but nearly constantly. We have an open channel to talk to the people that make the decisions regarding what will be done, what will be included, and how it will work, and, not only do we FLOOD that channel with suggestions, but we know they get considered, seriously, every time.

So, you'll forgive my lack of surprise today at the response. Subscribers spoke, we listened, and when we advocated for them, we were listened to. Well, maybe I'm a little surprised. Like I said, developers don't get hugs very often.

Kevin Carroll Blew Us Away!!!

Wow ... Kevin Carroll just finished his speech and boy are we inspired and ready to PLAY and DREAM!

Amazingly enough, Kevin is the person who, in a sense, started the whole rubber-band bracelet phenomenom (you know, LIVESTRONG, DREAM, etc.). He told the story (and you can read more about his background here).

Kevin is a truly inspiring guy. He asked us the question: What inspires you? For him, as a kid, it was playing with a red rubber ball.

He said your dreams need to be high-reaching and audacious. Which got me thinking; what are my dreams and are they big and bold? Hmmm ... maybe I need to work on that!

One of the things that impressed me the most about Kevin is that it is obvious that he is a generous soul ... a sincere giver. I made a note to myself in my notebook - give!

Kevin said that missions are finite - dreams are endless. He says, to realize one's destiny is a person's only requirement. And if that doesn't get you thinking ...

He passed out red rubber balls to our Workshop attendees. As red balls were being tossed from Superintendents to Document Publishers to Executive Directors, it became very clear that we're all on the same team - a bunch of dreamers who want to make a difference! Here are Kevin's five "dream" ingredients:

* Dedication
* Responsibility
* Education
* Attitude
* Motivation

And according to Kevin, 'E' is the most important letter in the word 'dream'. There are teachable moments in every day.

Kevin Carroll dreams big, and he inspires others to dream big. I want to be on his team - don't you?