Home > Product Management, Software Engineering > The “right side up” organization (or how not to demonstrate software)

The “right side up” organization (or how not to demonstrate software)

Many years ago, I worked for PepsiCo in Purchase, NY.  I learned a lot at PepsiCo.  In addition to building large scale data warehouse which gave SQL optimizers more than one headache, I also learned what PepsiCo called at that time “the right-side-up organization”.

In the right-side-up organization, employees are on top and managers are on the bottom.  It’s the manager’s job to enable their employees, set clear goals, remove barriers, and get out of the way.

Similarly, in the-right-side-up software company, customers are always on top.   Always.   And when the sales account manager and sales engineer travel to a customer location, while they are on site with the customer, the entire company should work for these two employees during that time.  Always – even the CEO.

Being invited to demonstrate mission critical software at a customer location is a privilege.   It takes a lot of preparation to ensure that demonstrations are executed flawlessly.   And should  trouble unexpectedly surface, the right-side-up organization will be the difference.  Here is what can happen if right-side-up organization is not in place:

Before the demonstration:

– Another account team was using the only demo environment and promised to reset all customer databases (“trust us, you will never know we changed all the data”)

– Grapevine has its benefits.  When our sales account manager learned that the demo environment was used by another account team, she called to confirm if the demo environment was reset and ready for her customer demonstration.

– Demo environment was still down for maintenance so no one could check.  Our sales account manager had to jump on the plane and never knew the true state of the demo environment.

During the demo:

– Demo environment was still down and unavailable.  The Operations team did not know that a critical, on site customer presentation was about to be conducted.

– When our sales account manager called everyone she knew, every call went directly to the voice mail.  The demo was eventually conducted but later the same afternoon.

In the right-side-up organization, this would occur very differently.

– Even if the demo environment had to be down for maintenance, someone would be 100% accountable to log in later in the evening and reset / restore all databases to ensure that the demo environment was available for the customer demonstration.

– Schedule of all customer demonstrations would be confirmed and shared in a cross-functional meeting on Monday morning or even on Sunday evening via a conference call.  In addition, sales account managers and sales engineers would be able to reach the right person on the first ring because at least 2 people would be on standby to act as problem resolution coordinators.

In the right-side-up organization, everyone always asks, “Who do I enable and how can I help”.    Try it.

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