The popular comedian Jim Gaffigan does a bit about how having children has made him realize how little he actually knows. As a parent of two inquisitive girls I can certainly commiserate - it's sometimes disconcerting how few of their questions I can answer without aid from a popular search engine.
(On the other hand, I believe I'll look back fondly on these days when they view me as such a knowledge base… until they fully realize that the electronic devices they're so often glued to are gateways to nearly every piece of known information in the universe.) Simply put, there is often no bigger challenge than being asked "why".
I've recently returned from the annual Temenos Client Educational Conference - the first I've attended with the company. Through all of my interactions with our clients - whether in sessions and breakout meetings or informally during meals or events - the most significant takeaway for me was the number of clients who had the willingness and desire to challenge the Temenos representatives with the question of "why". “Why would I do that this way versus another way?” “Why is that a direction you're thinking of going with the product?” Sometimes the answer was fairly straightforward, sometimes more complex - but those "why" questions always led to additional meaningful and insightful discussion.
I believe we make an honest attempt to challenge ourselves here at Temenos - specifically with product direction - by not shying away from questioning ideas or decisions. There is no substitute, though, for an educated and inquisitive client base presenting that challenge of "why". That challenge forces a discipline and thoroughness in our decision-making, weeding out those ideas for which we can't offer sufficient explanation. And, it ensures we don't ever get caught up in believing we have all the answers - which I'm (fairly) certain is amongst the quickest ways to ruin, for an organization or otherwise.
A forum such as a Client Educational Conference is fertile ground for such interaction with existing clients. We strive to proactively find more opportunities to get asked "why" by more and more clients on a more frequent basis (such as with a client-driven User Group), while at the same time fostering a day-to-day sense of empowerment amongst our entire client base to ask the challenging questions. One specific outlet we discussed at the Conference was the just-announced voting website for lifecycle users to drive product roadmap priorities. This site will provide insight to clients on the new features and functionality being considered within our solutions - allowing them to provide feedback via their prioritization votes, and also offering the insight to allow them to question "why" we're considering some things and not others.
We will continue to value the opportunities we have with forums like the Client Educational Conference, and we will continue to find other outlets to be challenged with the question of "why" from clients - as it is the lifeblood of our Product Organization. The theme of this year's Conference was Imagine the Possibilities - a concept that encourages another very valuable question we must ask and be asked: why not? But, that's a topic for another blog.