The principle of "Mea culpa" in communication with the customer

Published on June 05, 2010

The principle of "Mea culpa" in communication with the customer

    Now, perhaps, only the Old Believers in the deep taiga do not know what freelance is. And those of them who have not yet outsourced the extraction of food. And at the same time, as the movement of free developers is gaining momentum, many funny, and sometimes dangerous religions are associated with this. I would like to tell about one of them. This article on Habré served as the motivator for this - habrahabr.ru/blogs/pm/95548 .
    NB: The article, of course, is humorous and was later transferred to HabraJumor, but you won’t be fooled, and we understand that humor is used so that the market of minds can penetrate that which is not allowed through the front door. As they say, a political joke is also a joke. In general, please note that this article is not considered, but a religion, the private product of which this article is ..

    So, there is such a partyreligion: the customer is the Enemy because he is Guilty of Everything. That's right, with a capital "B". Sometimes he is Gad, Bastard and Bastard, but in the end he is still to blame. Deadlines are broken - the customer is to blame, woke up with a sore head - the customer is to blame, milk escaped - the customer is to blame. Any letter from the customer causes a nervous tick, a bell means rage, and even a meeting is a ring of a mix fighting game and DeathTrack without any rules.

    Naturally, we love him when he chooses us as a contractor. We are inspired when we receive an advance, etc. But we are talking about those moments when the project did not go where we directed it. Or they didn’t send, but secretly in the soul they hoped that he would go there. It is during such periods that our “dark side” appears and we begin to look for his guilt ... Subsequently, the various “guilty parties” are grouped, sorted and cataloged, giving rise to many parables, legends and articles similar to the aforementioned. But let me introduce another point of view.

    It is based on my rather rich experience of freelance, which is why the pronoun “we” was used so often. I was there, in the same situation, and made the same mistakes (but what is there to hide, I still do). He did large projects for pennies and worthless for a lot of money, broke off and broke off, cursed with customers to the nines and met again, was himself a customer and intermediary, and who he was not. In general, since 1992, when I completed my first order, I could work for anyone, but always remained a freelancer. And the last five years I am only him.

    It follows from this that I will exclusively protect the interests of the freelancer, forgive the customers. But to defend in a somewhat unusual way. Therefore, many of them, especially beginners, may need a little courage to understand and accept this. For admitting your mistakes is somewhat more difficult than admitting others.

    So, postulate number one, which I cultivate in my freelance work. Any attempt to shift my blame on the customer makes me weaker as a professional, and in most cases brings more losses than profits. Therefore, never, hear, never spend your creative potential on searches in the style of "how would I put all the blame on him." And remember that as soon as you admitted your mistake and started to correct it, you became a little higher, a little wider in the shoulders and the synapses in the brain became a little synapses.

    Mistakes are almost the only thing we can learn from. My God, I used to spend a lot of time creating synthetic situations in my mind, saying, what would I do if the number of simultaneous users in a certain application would be 1000, and I thought that at such moments I was growing professionally. But when on the urgent days of industrial exploitation, the problem fell over me that my application works very badly with billions of records and a large number of users, I immediately began to panic and look for the guilty anywhere, but not in myself. How I needed at that moment a guru who would say: "Idiot, this lesson costs thousands of your mental projections of spherical horses in the vacuum of high-performance systems, use it." The search for the goat took longer and records were kept only in the “passive” column of my balance sheet. Although I had to use this situation for training and put in the asset a fat plus. I made many mistakes, but, damn them, they helped me the most.

    Postulate number two. The customer is to blame only in two cases. First - he does not understand the business in which he is engaged. The second - he does not fulfill his obligations. Point. In all other cases I am to blame. At least that because of greed did not refuse this customer. It is easy to share the point of view that customers should be born with inborn knowledge about formalizing their requirements, filling out bug reports, etc. But it will be later, when there will be so many of us freelancers that we will break through the relevant subjects in compulsory school education at the legislative level, and we will forcibly transplant the gene we need for the losers. And until this happens, the customer absolutely does not need to know anything about the process of developing information products and he sends the documents in the form in which he is used to sending them. Therefore, the only thing we could blame him for is that we did not appear on his horizon earlier and did not explain in time the basics of this process. But this, again, is our fault :)

    Let’s take as an example the first joke from the previously mentioned post: “The developer, the happy owner of a 2005 working computer, will get a lot of pleasure trying to open a megabyte file, digging through all one hundred sheets of requirements in search of two lines of changes and increasing the scale of the file being viewed.” From the point of view of the second postulate of the crime in the actions of the customer there. According to the first postulate, a freelancer stops hysteria, wipes away tears, and proceeds to search for his guilt. For example, he can find ways to optimize his workplace, convert a document into a format with which he will be more comfortable working, find out, finally, that even Word has the ability to compare two documents in order to easily find “two changed lines”, etc. P. Bottom line: the freelancer has grown, there is no conflict field (and the thoughts “oh you scumbag, again sent in the XYZ format” often create it). With each such step you sow on the field of your professionalism. Of course, not immediately, but after a year or two you will begin to harvest. So the dilemma is simple - what kind of crop do you want to harvest: skills or neurosis.

    And postulate number three. It’s great if you work out what bourgeois often call Vision. It can be called a freelance conscience, or you can just say that you need your personal feature. Each of them can have its own, for example, quality or speed of development, well-thought-out user interface, etc. Of course, they will angrily tell me that the developer must provide all this. But let's be honest, most of us do not provide anything from this list in an uncompromising way. Those. when you don’t make deals with your conscience at all, under any circumstances. For example, if your feature is quality, then you will never slip the project to the customer, knowing about errors in it, if only to deliver it on time, and say directly: “I could have passed it now, but I made a mistake, I’m guilty, punish ”and at the same time you will sincerely not give a damn about the severity of the punishment, because you do not even consider the option of going against your professional conscience. If your feature is development speed, then you are fixing bugs as fast as creating an original product. For the speed of development is already a part of your spinal cord and you cannot do otherwise. Those. rapid development of a raw product and subsequent grinding at a snail speed is not a feature, it is greed :) Vision can also be in areas far from direct development. You can relate to everything with humor, you can correspond with the customer in verse, discuss TK for a game of paintball, etc. The main thing - try to find her cheating and carefully, parently, raise and nurture. for you are not even considering going against your professional conscience. If your feature is development speed, then you are fixing bugs as fast as creating an original product. For the speed of development is already a part of your spinal cord and you cannot do otherwise. Those. rapid development of a raw product and subsequent grinding at a snail speed is not a feature, it is greed :) Vision can also be in areas far from direct development. You can relate to everything with humor, you can correspond with the customer in verse, discuss TK for a game of paintball, etc. The main thing - try to find her cheating and carefully, parently, raise and nurture. for you are not even considering going against your professional conscience. If your feature is development speed, then you are fixing bugs as fast as creating an original product. For the speed of development is already a part of your spinal cord and you cannot do otherwise. Those. rapid development of a raw product and subsequent grinding at a snail speed is not a feature, it is greed :) Vision can also be in areas far from direct development. You can relate to everything with humor, you can correspond with the customer in verse, discuss TK for a game of paintball, etc. The main thing - try to find her cheating and carefully, parently, raise and nurture. For the speed of development is already a part of your spinal cord and you cannot do otherwise. Those. rapid development of a raw product and subsequent grinding at a snail speed is not a feature, it is greed :) Vision can also be in areas far from direct development. You can relate to everything with humor, you can correspond with the customer in verse, discuss TK for a game of paintball, etc. The main thing - try to find her cheating and carefully, parently, raise and nurture. For the speed of development is already a part of your spinal cord and you cannot do otherwise. Those. rapid development of a raw product and subsequent grinding at a snail speed is not a feature, it is greed :) Vision can also be in areas far from direct development. You can relate to everything with humor, you can correspond with the customer in verse, discuss TK for a game of paintball, etc. The main thing - try to find her cheating and carefully, parently, raise and nurture. discuss TK for a game of paintball, etc. The main thing - try to find her cheating and carefully, parently, raise and nurture. discuss TK for a game of paintball, etc. The main thing - try to find her cheating and carefully, parently, raise and nurture.

    In conclusion, I would like to voice a few hints for fellow weapons:
    - You must be able to refuse a customer that you do not like. No matter how prosaic this may sound, greed can make you pay twice. Failure opposite will raise your bar of self-esteem. You need self-esteem, because it is added to every message that you are trying to convey to the customer, it gives him extra weight. Respect yourself, so in the end you will get from the customer what you want and how you want it.
    - Do not hesitate to make demands to the customer. The key word is requirements, not “Wishlist”. If your quality work depends, for example, on documents drawn up in a special form, for certain reasons, then voice it. Completely. This means not just sending a letter “This is our form, fill it in”, but explaining why and why. Failure will lead to your ineffective work and here the previous hint enters the scene, say, in the form of the phrase: “Unfortunately, the current situation will not allow me to work efficiently and efficiently, so I have to refuse.” I emphasize that this applies to situations where you, as a professional, are convinced of the effectiveness of the approach. If you feel like it because you’re just used to it, then just a war of habits begins. Rejoice if your approach suddenly turns out to be less effective than that used by the customer.
    - Do not be afraid to fine yourself. Penalties can be of various types, both directly material, and in the form of additional works performed free of charge, etc. This, in fact, is just an early start to working on the errors, the importance of which I spoke earlier. It is worth considering that as a good spoon for dinner, it’s better to fine yourself before your “oops” is detected by the customer. This is good not so much because you show off your honesty and objectivity to the customer, but because your punishment system can be much more effective than its censure system. Those. if he is the first to do this, then he can spoil your astral image, if you can get experience and +1 attack.
    - I would like to continue and continue, but it will already be too much. In conclusion, I advise you to follow the principle of Wayne Gretzky. Go not where the puck is now, but where it will be at the next moment. You should concentrate not on the current conflict by the customer, but on the way out of it. The conflict has not even begun, and you have already left it :)

    PS In fact, I tried to write what I would like to say to myself when I started and now, to remind myself once again of what I know, but what I don’t often follow, unfortunately ... Maybe someone will benefit from my experience.