Greed, arrogance, inexperience, and stupidity are the essential quartet driving many IT project failures. Bring this set of factors together, and failure is practically inevitable. All too often, vendors and customers angle to get as much as possible out of each other, ignoring the fact that fairness and mutual respect are the true building blocks upon which successful projects are created.
I started thinking about this after reading an article by Bambi Francisco about the great customer service-oriented attitude from senior management at Craigslist. Here are a few representative quotes:
[T]he decision by Craig Newmark, Craigslist founder and ace customer service representative, and the San Francisco classified company’s president, Jim Buckmaster, to focus less on profit maximization and more on serving their customers is so incredibly refreshing.
Buckmaster presented at the UBS Global Media conference. “Jim made it clear that their goal is to help their users, not to maximize the company’s profit,” wrote Ben Schachter, UBS Internet analyst.
[Their] values are 1) Give a person a break 2) Treat other people like you want to be treated.
I’ve known Newmark and Buckmaster for a few years now. I’ve been to both their humble homes. For years, they never acted like men at the helm of a site that’s among the most popular on the Web.
I find it remarkable (also saddening) that so few vendors genuinely put customer interests before their own. When customers and vendors try to take advantage of one another, projects go down in flames. This greed mentality is far from unusual, and as a result IT projects often fail. The lesson here is clear, don’t you think?