Instill Excellence

How do you instill excellence in others? Maybe this is an impossible task. But I hope that it can be done.

Being in the software maintenance business, we get a lot of trouble tickets when our users have problems. I frequently like to put myself in my customer's shoes to get the right perspective. A lot of times problem resolution is difficult because our customers use a different language to describe the work they use our software for. Most of the time I take ownership of the problems assigned to me. It is almost as if I am on a mission. I never stop if I find that my software is working correctly. I dig further to check that the data the software is working against is correct. And I also make sure that me and the customer agree and understand how the software is supposed to work. I think I got this software maintenance thing down pertty well.

The trouble starts when I do some research on a problem, and find that another part of our system is at fault. The process is for me to hand off the problem to a developer on the team that supports the other parts of our system. And many times I do not like what I see. I get a lot of questions from these other team members. A common theme I have seen recently is that developers just state that their code is working correctly. These assertions usually have little or nothing to do with our customer's problems. So far I have just been encouraging the developers to provide better customer service. But it seems the words are not getting through. I see developers say things like "I think it is a data problem". This is preposterous. Even if the issue were a data problem, what kind of due diligence have you done if you can only say "I think"?M

Maybe I take my job too seriously. But I think that is what my job is about. I can do top quality work myself. The real challenge is how can I rally other developers to do the same. How can I pass on the motivation? I want to get others excited on resolving customer problems. Maybe I need to take some time to soul search in order to determine where my own excitement comes from. A lot of it has to do with building a relationship with many customers who use my software. Their mission and their careers often hinge on whether the software gets the job done. Now that is a good motivation. I think that if I can channel this motivation to other, I will have achieved leadership. Right now it is a struggle though.