On the blog of a small software company, a consultant explains how failure was a huge success. Or in this case: a customer apology means that everything is going great.
The blogger explains:
Within a week of the new process rollout, our gleeful project champion turned solemn. She approached me saying again how pleased they were with how we delivered on such a tight timeline, how everything worked exactly as it should, BUT there were a few changes being requested. “Not a problem, this is what we’re here for,” says I, as we swiftly folded in the extensions.
The ever appreciative champion comes back the next week and even more solemn, passes along more change requests from the field. Two weeks later, she is thoroughly apologizing for how she clearly had us build the wrong process, plus there were new relatively major changes requested.
I looked her in the eye, and told her flat out: “Are you kidding? This is one of the most successful processes we’ve ever built.”
She didn’t understand how I could be serious, so I explained: “The feedback you’re getting proves something very important: THEY ARE USING IT!”
Jason Sharp, the writer of the piece, notes that the customer couldn’t possibly be explaining the discrepancy if she wasn’t educated on the project.
In other words: Failure is the secret to success. In order for a consultant to know they are successful, the customer must be talking about the parts that aren’t working right.
The next time you’re hesitating about critiquing or apologizing, go for it! By admitting failure you allow for others to know that you’re actually thinking seriously about the situation.
The only true failure would be to say nothing at all.