Saturday, December 29, 2007

Eating your own dog food

Often in companies in which I'm involved, the quote, "eat your own dog food" occurs. The etymology of this phrase is apparently based on a circa 1970s Alpo dog food commercial where Lorne Greene professes the benefits to be so great he feeds it to his own dogs. This allegorical cry for using one's own products and services is neither appropriate nor in many cases doable. For instance, if you're Lockheed Martin you likely don't have a real need for a drone helicopter missile launcher, no matter how much you would like to use it on your competition. Closer to home, in my last company we built an enterprise software package for business activity monitoring (coined by Gartner as BAM). Using the software in a small but growing concern the size of Dante Software would be complete overkill where a simple spreadsheet would suffice.

We're in another round of similar discussions at CI and in this instance it seems altogether appropriate. In the current business we baseline, measure, and analyze the impact of word of mouth on a company's industry, products, and services. In this case, eating our own dog food is not just an exercise forced upon some unsuspecting corner of the organization, it is critical to our survival and growth.

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