a little courtesy and subtlety

Subtlety is not a virtue of our culture, but it appeals to me and always has. --Robert Redford

I've forgotten what I was doing! I booted my PC out of sleep mode and waited while it got itself organized. Then I loaded a program and by the time the program was done checking for updates, I have forgotten why I had loaded it.

I opened a file yesterday and the reader program insisted on checking for updates. On finding one, it downloaded the update and required a reboot. Come on! A reboot (in Windows XP) for a file reader? So it took 10 minutes before I could see the small file that I wanted to see.

I switched from a major anti-virus program because it insists on offering me only one option: reboot.

Windows Media Player, Musicmatch, and Real Player all keep trying to take control of my MP3 files, no matter what I want.

I enjoy the widgets in Konfabulator (now Yahoo Widget Engine) but quitting asks "Are you sure?" Of course, I'm sure!

I have basically stopped using my Windows machine because every day seems to bring a new computing environment--each program yelling that it comes first. I know Microsoft XP has lots of problems but at least Microsoft isn't totally obnoxious; it downloads patches in the background and always offers an option to reboot now or reboot later.

Why are so many programs so pushy, so oblivious to a good customer experience? Is it because the developers are self-absorbed? Or because the executives are strident? Do they believe that loyalty comes from forcing their agenda.

In general, the programming rule is "me first; you last."

If I had a gardener who spent as much time fixing her shovel as we spend fooling with our computers, I'd buy a good shovel. At least you can buy a good shovel. --Erasmus Smums

It seems to me that computer programs are like people on cell phones. Some are courteous to others, keeping their conversations to themselves, while others shout their personal business to the crowd. Like Americans abroad, they embarrass themselves without even realizing it.

While their program may be the most important program in a vendor's life, it's not the most important in mine. Let's add a little courtesy and subtlety in the way we deal with our customers, shall we?

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.

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