Once in a while, (every 18-24 months or so), I get criticized – if not quite in trouble – for saying what I think. Usually it’s because I’ve criticized a piece of software and someone who’s using or implementing that software gets annoyed. They say I’m being negative and hurting the progress of their project. But saying what I think is one reason why clients stay with us year after year. They know that if they ask me a question, they’ll get a straight answer. Of course, that sometimes leads to my comments being taken out of context, and they end up annoying those who’d prefer that certain opinions not be aired.
Generally, I believe that openness to a wide variety of opinions is important to progress. If people can’t express negative sentiments openly, they wind up muttering them to friends; then real issues remain unacknowledged and unresolved. That said, I recognize that even when I think something is, shall we say, suboptimal, certain rules still apply. People who’ve worked with me know that without saying. But for those of you who haven’t, here they are:
1) Opinions are just opinions.
Disagreements about software (unless the salespeople were really, really, really bad) don’t rise to the same level as stealing or personal injury. It’s just a difference of opinion.
2) Opinions about software are true in context.
While it may be interesting to speculate about what software is the “better solution” in broad terms, what really matters is what’s better at a given time, in a given situation. For example, if you want a global, for-profit solution, then, overall, Oracle is a better choice than Lawson. But that doesn’t mean your finance people are going to find Oracle easier to use.