Some time ago my daughter came home from her job as a checker at a grocery store, sat down and pulled a wad of money out of her pocket. I asked her where that came from. She said she had been getting a lot of compliments on a leather bracelet she wears and a lot of people wanted to know where to get one.
My daughter talked to the boy who made it for her and told him he should wear one because people would buy them from him. He really liked the idea of selling them since he enjoyed making them, but he didn’t really want to wear them. My daughter and the boy figured out a good price and my daughter told him she would sell them for him.
The next day she wore the bracelet to work and sold 20 of them! She didn’t “sell” any of them, but simply wore it. When people asked her where to buy one, she said she could sell them one.
A few years ago we were designing a network router for businesses. We had targeted small businesses of between one and fifty employees. The basic assumption was that there would not be anyone knowledgeable about computer networks at these businesses. We made everything except plugging in the cables automatic. We provided a big, colorful diagram showing where to plug in the cables to make that piece simple. We tested it many times in the office to make sure there were no problems.
We were happy with the test results and ready to ship the first order of 10,000 units. As a last minute gesture I said I would take one home and plug it in. It didn’t work. What went wrong? I was up all night trying to figure out why it didn’t work. The next morning I took all of my findings to our key engineer and explained to him that it didn’t work. He looked at me puzzled and said they had tested it and there were no problems, but he would take a look at it.
About an hour later he sheepishly came in my office to tell me what was wrong. They had forgotten to put in a simple command. They never saw the problem in our labs because our network didn’t require this, but most other networks would require it. We fixed the problem and got our 10,000 unit shipment out later that day.
Are you dogfooding? Whether you are making bracelets or complex routers, you need to use your own products, otherwise known as dogfooding. I originally heard this stated as “eat our own dog food.” Due to the negative nature of this, some now say “drink our own Koolaid” or “drink our own Champaign”. One Microsoft executive calls it “IceCreaming.”
No matter what you want to call it, the benefits of dogfooding are huge. These were just two examples involving a sales and a quality benefit of dogfooding. The benefits scale sales, marketing, engineering, quality assurance, public relations, and more. If you are not dogfooding now, start today!
Dano Ybarra is a leader, global executive, corporate warrior, serial entrepreneur, husband, father, and Internet pioneer. To learn more about Dano please visit www.danoybarra.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information visit his Beyond.com profile.