Talk to your Users like they may be the CIO
I have an interesting story from work today. First, this is just my second week at PRG-Schultz. I know who my manager is, and I know his boss, who is a VP in the IT division, but that's about it. I know I've been told lots of other names, but I'm not good at names, and I probably don't really care either. Now I've already been working on one project, and I had put together a simple prototype. I've met one chief user, and my coworker showed my prototype to him yesterday.
So this morning, someone comes up to me and says his name is Eric and he's heard I had a prototype of this app he'd like to see. Sure thing, no problem -- I assume he's one of my other users. He mentioned something about all the books I had, and I mentioned I get lots of them free to review, and then he talked like he had been involved in the publishing industry. He seemed like a nice enough guy, and seemed to like what I had to show him. I asked him his last name again, since I had forgotten it.
After he leaves, the guy across the alley asks me if I knew who that was. Turns out Eric Goldfarb is the CIO of PRG -- oops, I knew his name sounded familiar. Oh well, I didn't do anything embarrassing, and I certainly wasn't nervous, so all in all it was probably the best way to meet him anyhow. I googled his name tonight -- Eric is one of ComputerWorld's Premier 100 IT Leaders for 2003! He's been CIO of Global Knowledge and CTO of Macmillan Publishing too.
So, the moral is to always talk to your users like the may be the CIO -- in my case he actually was!