I’m getting hands-on experience with DevOps.
No, not as a member of a DevOps team. It’s that I use Office 365.
Don’t get me wrong. I like Office 365, to the extent it’s possible to like this sort of thing.
Except that once a week or so when I fire up my laptop, I have to hunt for features that mysteriously moved from their accustomed spot on the ribbon when I wasn’t looking.
It’s like Who Moved My Cheese?, where someone moved the protagonists’ cheese to an unknown location with no obvious reason for doing so and little or no notification that it had happened.
So to all you hardworking DevOps team members, and especially to the fine folks responsible for implementing Office 365’s epics, features, and user stories (here at KJR headquarters we’re nothing if not Fully Buzzword Compliant (FBC)) …
To all you hardworking folks: DevOps’ CI/CD mantra can stand for Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery or Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment.
If it’s Deployment and what you’re Continuously Deploying includes UI changes, CD has a third translation: Continuous Distraction.
Which brings us to the serious business of self-promotion, specifically, the impending (September) release of There’s No Such Thing as an IT Project: A Handbook for Intentional Business Change.
User Interface and User Experience design is one (or are two, depending on your perspective) of the topics we touch on in the book. In it we establish what most businesses should establish as their core UI/UX metric: Annoy customers and users as little as possible.
Yes, yes, yes, Tom Peters is still flogging excellence and delighting customers as what you should strive for. And far be it from my co-author, Dave Kaiser, or myself to denigrate excellence or customer delight in general.
It’s in particular that we have some concerns, namely, the nature of many business relationships is such that customers have no interest in being delighted. If you’re among them, managing to not irritate them is doing well.
Trying to delight them inevitably results in more and longer contacts, when what they want are fewer and shorter ones.
And if you accept the KJR distinction between quality (absence of defects and adherence to specs) and excellence (flexibility, customizability, adaptability and the presence of desirable features) … if you accept this distinction, simply delivering what you promised to deliver — quality — might not be enough to delight anyone, but compared to your competitors and earlier self they might be pleasantly surprised.
Try to get inside your customers’ heads. When they’re looking to buy something, what do they care about? What do you care about when you’re looking to buy something?
While not a universal truth, the odds-on favorites are price and convenience.
Look at the big business success stories of the last few decades, and for every Excellence-and-Delight example (Facebook and Twitter, maybe?) companies that focus on price and convenience are making a lot more money. Google, Amazon, and Uber are three noteworthy examples. At least they are from the perspective of revenue. I’m thinking Uber will turn a profit before investors lose interest, but you never know.
Google is an interesting example because when we use it we aren’t its customers. We’re its product, to which it sells access to its customers, which are the advertisers who want to reach us so as to tell us their stories. Google makes buying access to us easy. Whether it’s cheap depends on the details of how you measure the cost of customer access. Certainly, it’s no more expensive than the other ways businesses have to gain access to interested buyers.
Amazon is more straightforward. Whether you’re looking at its bread-and-butter retailing, its Kindle books, or AWS, price and convenience are everything.
Likewise Uber. Compared to traditional taxis, Uber costs less and is a lot more convenient. Uber doesn’t delight its customers except by comparison. But it sure has thought through the factors that irritate ride buyers and has done quite a good job of minimizing them.
There are, of course, exceptions to the price-and-convenience rule. If you’re in the business of selling Lamborghinis, Ferraris, or Aston Martins, neither price nor convenience are what your customers are after. Likewise if you own a professional sports team or Marvel and its stable of superheroes. If that’s you, excellence and delighting your customers by giving them a great experience is exactly what you need to do, because the customer experience is what you’re selling and they’re buying.
If, on the other hand, you’re the purveyor of more prosaic merchandise, just not irritating your customers is a pretty high bar.