Friday, April 28, 2006

Business, lies and silos

Some like Seth Godin readily acknowledge that marketers are liars. I agree with him and extend the proposition to all business people, myself included of course, especially if one considers that it is a lie to omit something. On the other hand, I think everything is a matter of what objective one is pursuing.

The "whole truth and nothing but the truth" is not an objective per se in business and I am not sure it is in courts of law either or at least not in all cases. Not even sure it is a good idea in other areas of human life. Else, the fine arts of cinema, science fiction or even painting would not be possible. From partial and questionable definitions of what sex actually is, whether oral or otherwise, given by a President I liked much more than the current, to the "somewhat" biased presentations of marketers or the preposterous communication of political campaigns, spin is something I witnessed many times. It's just part of human life; you see I don't particularly believe the "perfect green apple syndrome" is a particularly functional way of doing things... Imprefection is fine, although I don't particularly enjoy perfect imperfection! Today, I came across a great summary of all the lies, mostly driven by the best of intentions (as ever), that engineers (particularly the software kind) feed us on the market side of the business... Go read it, it is awesome and incredibly true (unless of course it is YAML = yet-another-marketer's-lie).


  1. it is YAML and insulting to boot. Most software projects are screwed up by the marketing guys; time and time again.

  2. bob,
    Many thanks for your comment. I sense accumulated frustration there and probably some negative experience with marketers. I respect that. To a certain degree I can see your point; as a matter of fact it all boils down to people and attitude.
    In fact, I believe the issue of software engineering and marketing to be just an instance of a class-problem, which is the relationship between people and technology.
    Today, we have rather undisciplined business / marketing people dealing with more or less structured engineering experts driven by binary logic (marketing peopel more often than not do not grasp, which is precisely where their value is in their part of the business). Yet these two communities (and you might want to add sales, operational and financial profiles - the equation is more complex) actually have to coexist because the economy is a symbiotic system. I would even add it is a chaotic system, which might be one of the reasons why the results of linear / sequential methodologies like waterfall are so disappointing. This may be one of the reasons why I think we ought to really try alternative ways of running such projects.
    Having been on IT projects as product manager quite a few times, I can say that when the whole thing works it is thanks to the attitude of the people who actually do the job both on the business and on the IT side, including operational guys of both worlds. It follows, in my opinion, that blaming "the other guy" is just not going to help much in achieving real project success.
    We do need those good marketers, active sales people, shrewd financiers and smart engineers. All of them. Period. The question is how to actually make them work together harmoniously. Which means that the main challenge of the XXIst century is not technical (by technical I mean "core expertise in specific topics") but rather a challenge of human capabilities.