A couple of months ago, a disruptive event changed not only the project I worked in but also the way I think of my customers. This article illustrates my thoughts.
First, let’s clarify who my customers are. Currently, I’m working in a time & material environment. That means that my employer sells developer time which the customer can use as he pleases. Hence, I’m getting told what to code by the customer of my employer. So in the context of this article, “my customer” is this customer who buys developers from my employer.
Without going into details what happended, my behaviour towards my customers has changed in the following aspects:
- I’m more detached from my customer. I avoid mixing private and work-related topics and don’t share as much private information as I did before.
- Although I did that before, I try even more to understand the customer and his situation. Why is she acting the way she does? What are the driving forces? Whatever the reasons, I take the decisions of my customer as a given constraint and professionally work with this constraint.
- I strive for a better balance between making everything immediately better and choosing what is really important and urgent in the moment. In other words: I’m choosing the fights I really want to win instead of fighting every skirmish.
To be constantly reminded of the events and what I want to learn from them, I added this section to my mission statement:
I am a senior professional. I accept and comprehend the individual customer situation. I provide advice which can, but not has to be, used for making decisions by the customer. I accept that the customer will sometimes decide in favor of a quick fix rather than a sustainable but more expensive solution. I deal professionally with these decisions. That does not mean I will do absolutely anything the customer wants me to do. I will not write bad, cheap code and favor quick fixes and workarounds instead of real, lasting solutions. Such things will make me leave the project as it did before. The change in my mission statement just means that I’m not loading the weight of decision making on to my shoulders. That is the customer’s job.
I am a senior professional.