Monday, May 3, 2010

"You don't get it, Steve. That doesn't matter!"

Author's note: last week was the first time I've not had a blog entry since I started this almost a year ago. I found out a few days prior that I am a victim of the recently announced layoffs at CA (with the accompanying re-org). Obviously, I was distracted with trying to get as many "irons in the fire" as possible, which is my explanation for the absence of an entry.

What am I doing differently this time than I did last time? I'll write about that in a future blog entry, but in the meantime if you are interested in discussing possible employment do be sure to drop by my
LinkedIn profile first to get an idea of what value I bring to any organization.

That infamous quote from The Pirates of Silicon Alley is one that has stuck with me for all time. To provide context, Steve Jobs is whining to Bill Gates that Apple's products are better than Microsoft's. Bill Gates gives him the shaft with the quote above, then runs off to marry one of his lower level managers before getting his testicles chopped off and being forced to give his money to charity.

(In all seriousness, it wasn't until Melinda Gates browbeat Bill into starting the foundation that I actually started respecting him. Go girl power!...wait, did I just say that?)

I really thought of this quote when reading this article from the NY Times recently. Someone needs to ship Andy Rubin a DVD of that movie stat because he obviously doesn't get it.

Disclaimer: I've written a few Android applications. I have never, and will never, write an iPhone application. So don't think I'm needlessly biased toward Apple.

What is it that Andy doesn't get? He doesn't understand that "it" doesn't matter. What is "it?" "It" is anything technical. People honestly don't give a crap if the iPhone / iPod / iPad / iDontCare doesn't multitask. In the end, the Apple R&D labs produced a more usable product with an application store containing 10x more applications than Google's store. That is what users care about - not whether the OS can multitask or not.

(It is ironic then that I will commence development of a new Android application over the next few days. I downloaded and installed all of the development environment and associated components on to my new computer yesterday.)

This reminded me of the OS/2 vs. Windows debate almost 2 decades ago. Windows won there too because IBM thought that the better OS would win and tried to use that as leverage when the battle wasn't yet over.

I want to wag my finger in front of the IBM executives from that time and ask them, "did you count your chickens before they hatch?" But it was better said by the well known, former columnist for PC Week, Will Zachmann:

"The genuinely superior technology of the day in fact won. It was Microsoft Windows."

Before you jump on my case for apparently contradicting what I've been saying, what Will meant was that Windows wasn't technically superior. But it was the superior technology.

The difference is subtle, but important. It doesn't mean that Windows was a better system - it was simply a better designed system from a usability standpoint (mainly because it had the applications that people needed to use). So, in that sense, the technology was superior...even though it was inferior.

You can read the whole discussion if you want the see what everyone had to see about OS/2 vs. Windows.

The point that I'm trying to bring up is that it is necessary to understand your customer. This is especially applicable when you're trying to sell something because even though what you are saying about why you are right / better / etc. may be true, you can still lose if you don't address the needs of the person you are trying to convince. I've seen this happen in...
  • Sales situations (where the product that was heads and shoulders better than the competition still lost);
  • Professional situations (where someone was truly valuable to the organization but the goals for that organization set by a new manager did not require that person's skills);
...and elsewhere.

Take the time to do some discovery. Figure out what matters most. Then tackle the challenge of trying to translate your worth to those things that matter. This will give you the edge you need to succeed at whatever you are trying to accomplish.

No comments:

Post a Comment