It’s my fault if your team didn’t read the friggin manual

If you haven’t heard of Seth Godin yet, head on over and check out his blog here. The guy consistently writes short, powerful stuff that can help you turn your business into a huge success. Pick up his book, “Purple Cow” for the basics.

His post today really resonated with me, because it’s pretty much what I do for a living. Here’s an excerpt (which is actually the entire post!):

If you buy my product but don’t read the instructions,
that’s not your fault, it’s mine.

If you read a blog post and misinterpret what I said,
that’s my choice, not your error.

If you attend my presentation and you’re bored,
that’s my failure.

If you are a student in my class and you don’t learn what I’m teaching,
I’ve let you down.

It’s really easy to insist that people read the friggin manual. It’s really easy to blame the user/student/prospect/customer for not trying hard, for being too stupid to get it or for not caring enough to pay attention. Sometimes (often) that might even be a valid complaint. But it’s not helpful.

What’s helpful is to realize that you have a choice when you communicate. You can design your products to be easy to use. You can write so your audience hears you. You can present in a place and in a way that guarantees that the people you want to listen will hear you. Most of all, you get to choose who will understand (and who won’t).

I love this. This idea is truly infused in our corporate culture here at Blue Ridge Numerics. So much so that guys like me have been tasked with actively contacting our customers to audit their success with our product. If I see shortcomings, it’s my job to help lay out a plan to improve a customer’s performance… even if they don’t yet know they need it!

I’m not going to wait until you realize you have a problem to help.