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what is the most important question

Occationally, you read a book which affects the way you view your daily work or thinking. I can probably name five or so books, so when they come into my life, it's thoughtworthy. I guess a lot of my thinking during the daily runs on my vacation will be around this latest books. Having read the work of Collins, the reading of The Ultimate Question by Fred Reichheld was yet another eye opener. As I've mentioned before, I got a disturbing response from a former business partner that he measured his customer's satisfaction by if they paid their bills or not. Having working with customers during my entire working career, this gived me the chills about the future of this actually really nice guy's business, and this chill is confirmed in the works of Reichheld: a business who does not care what the customer feels about his experience is doomed in a modern business situation.

So, what is The Ultimate Question? Well, it's nothing from The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy if you thought that, but there is a connection. If you haven't read that book, there is a culture who wants to know the meaning of everything, so they ask a computer which replies (after a seriously long time) with the nonsense answer of a number. And the reason is that the question was stupid. If you ask the wrong question, you get the wrong answer.

The Ultimate Question is related to this issue in the sense that most businesses wants to know what their customer's think about their products and the book discusses how they misses the answer by forming the wrong question, using the wrong form and not responding to the answer. And that these businesses sees this as a part of marketing, while a truly successful business sees the customer's views as the core point of improvement and business.

So, what is the ultimate question? I should answer you that you should read the book by yourself, because if you had the time to read this post you should really take the time to read the book. But instead, I leave you with a cliff hanger and say that I'll get back to this. Because this is a blog dedicated to agile software development and software development who does not focus on this question should not call itself agile. Agile is about responding to the customer, and that is what the ultimate question is all about.

I'll get back to this subject! Now, I'm heading for some dinner with the family.

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Categories: Agile
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