What flavor is your dog food

The Silicon Valley Product Group (Marty Cagan, I assume) asks about Eating Dog Food?.  As in "we eat our own dog food."

I’m not sure how many of you have heard the phrase, “we eat our own dog food,” but for several years at least, companies especially in Silicon Valley have used this phrase in order to impress their customers that their product is so good that they run their business on it and use it themselves. ...

Today, I’m embarrassed to have said something so meaningless. Of course we used our own products. ...

This is an interesting perspective on this phrase.  Basically, Cagan is saying that the phrase is totally out of date.  If you don't use your software (assuming it has something to do with running your business), then you really _had_ better not sell it.

I like how Cagan suggests that internal use of the software is simply another means of quality assurance - and we had better not brag about the fact that we do QA, it is part of the cost of doing business.  He also makes some great points about the difference of perspective between an employee using the software an a customer using the software.

However, I have been in many situations where I pick up software and wonder whether the people selling it have ever used it.  It has been reassuring to me, for example, to know that a project management company is using the process that they promote to manager their projects internally.  Various Theory of Constraints groups have gone through a lot of effort to be sure to apply the TOC principles to the running of their own businesses.

So, here is my thought: If your software should be used internally, please do so.  When you are out selling, make it clear that you use it, but don't wear it on your sleeve.  And maybe figure out a better phrase than "we eat our own dog food."  I'm vegetarian after all.

2 Comment(s)

As a huge fan of the dogfood analogy and a certifiable carnivore (That'll be a Double Whopper please), I agree that people should use their own solution if applicable. Last year I ranted about it to a significant degree:

http://mcfarlin.typepad.com/the_underlying_blog/2007/11/eat-your-own-do.html

The only thing I disagree with in your post is not wearing it on your sleeve. Why not? It's one cheap case study.

Jack Vinson Author Profile Page said:

The "wear it on your sleeve" comment has more to do with the style of selling. It was also made in relation to Marty Cagan's thoughts on the topic.

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