Unhealthy Software – Devastating, Not Just Bad Marketing

As someone who lived through the Sybase System 10 debacle….err….product release back in the 1990’s, I’ve seen first hand the pain caused by unhealthy software.

It’s a sad tale of a software company whose priority at the time was not the customer. At least not in my opinion.

In this case, product management was not customer-driven.

It wasn’t even sales-driven or developer-driven. It was driven by the desire to
impress analysts on Wall Street as well as prominent software analyst firms.

Software Train Wreck

Software Train Wreck

I can’t blame the product managers for this one, or even their VPs and EVPs.  This was the kind of decision that typically comes from the very top – the equivalent of a mandate from Zeus atop Mount Olympus: get software with certain critical features out the door by a particular date…OR ELSE.

This decision cost the company billions of dollars in market capitalization. Probably nearly two thousand people lost their jobs in one way or another –  from contractors to EVPs.  Good people, too.

The company’s reputation was devastated in a way that could only change by the company re-inventing itself – a painful and challenging process which took the better part of a decade.

Unhealthy software has the potential to destroy companies.

Mostly it destroys companies that made the software. Don’t let yours be one of them.

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