This editorial was originally published on Aug 19, 2013. It is being re-run as Steve is away at the Data Platform Summit.
When you work with a vendor, you may report bugs, issues, or strange behaviors in software. These area facts, and are valuable pieces of information that vendors do care about. When you exclaim that a particular bug or missing feature is critical, you’re stating an opinion. The importance or priority you place on an item is not necessarily the same priority the vendor places on the item.
We see this every day in our work, as clients and customers send us issues with our applications and systems. We triage the items and may or may not fix them in the order the customer would like them fixed. Our management may set priorities that we don’t agree with. It’s a complex interaction that involves many factors, all of which are weighed differently by different people.
However the end user (client, customer, etc.) often doesn’t understand why the priorities are different and why can’t we just see how badly an item needs to be fixed? I see this all the time, though from the end user perspective. I use lots of software, and I find lots of issues and failings, especially in SQL Server. My priorities aren’t Microsoft’s priorities, and I accept that. I provide them with an opinion of what I think, not a vote. If they don’t agree with my opinion, or choose to work on other priorities, I don’t think they aren’t listening to me. I think they disagree with my opinion.
Like it or not, politics is important here. The art of influence is important, and while an individual opinion doesn’t matter, lots of opinions can have influence. Again, however, these are opinions and influences, not votes. We can convince Microsoft to change direction at times, or work on certain issues, but it takes participation and rational, reasonable debate, not childish exaggerated complaints and insults. We want to influence and convince, not upset and anger.