Eat your own dog food

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Here is a short story to get you into the idea:

I looooove cacks!
Actually I have just prepared a delicious chocolate cake, can I offer you a piece?
Sure, thanks
What about you? You are not having a portion?
Ohh, no…, I don’t like eating it, I just like baking it.
I see… hmmm, you know what… I don’t feel like it anymore …

This guy is right – if I don’t eat my own baked cake why should he???

What I am talking about here is called in the professional slang “eat your own dog food”. Put simple it means – use the product you develop.
Recently it has been in the headlines that Google’s senior management are not eating their dog food when it comes to Google+.
Some might say that not every product is intended to be used by the people who develop it and that they might just be outside the target audience – True, but in this specific example where in today’s technology reality all senior holding positions are sharing and being followed on social media, it just hurts them.
Think of the implications, the developers feel the senior management does not think it is good enough to use and once this came out to the technology news, it hurt the attempt to raise the user base.

I believe in every product manager lies an entrepreneur, otherwise where would new ideas come from?  
I remember myself that every feature I suggested or any new idea for the “next BIG thing”  had one common thing. Irrelevant the technology which was to be used, no matter who had to implement, regardless of the current client profile. It all summed up to one intention, something I see as mandatory … something that I WILL USE.

Let’s take a second to think what is this approach good for?
By relying on the product you develop, you encourage yourself and those involved to maximize quality and improve the user experience.
Creative thinking comes when you run into a missing functionality in the product where instead of contacting the support or account management in the company who developed it, you end up raising this in a team meeting or your very own project manager, and it is all because it bothers you PERSONALLY and you feel this change will make the product better.
The general message a company sends out by doing so is that it considers its product to be the best in the market.

A great example of a company which eats its own dog food is Microsoft where the whole company uses Windows OS. In addition, as far as I know, all of Microsoft new products are developed through Visual Studio.
Another, closer example to most people is Facebook, where CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook CTO Bret Taylor (Which I am subscribed to follow)  use facebook for everyday social activities, it’s very common to read Bret comment on the latest UCLA game, and it seems that their new features and ideas come from them using facebook.