Leadership Lessons from Mike Luck: Eat Your Own Dogfood

When My Great-Grandfather (Joe Luck) started selling work boots in 1919, he used a pushcart to get his product to Akron rubber workers. 100 years later, Lucky Shoes is still owned by my relatives and has almost 20 locations around the state. My Father and Uncle also owned/operated a chain of Stride Rite shoe stores in Columbus from 1983 until 2011. I worked part-time at my family’s shoe store while I was in high school and learned more about business in the process than I did in 4 years of college.

At one point early in my tenure at the family business, I showed up to work wearing a brand of shoes that we didn’t carry. My Dad (bluntly) told me that I should wear the brands that we were trying to sell. If our customers didn’t think that our own family wore the shoes, why should they? This was my first lesson in the importance of eating your own dog food.

This has a clear translation into IT. We are often put into situations where we gain early access to the latest/greatest equipment before the rest of the organization. There can be value in IT testing the newest model laptop or piloting the largest monitor. However, this can easily create a sense of resentment among your customers.

Also, due to our administrative access, we can often circumvent critical security controls that are leveraged by the rest of the company. If we aren’t willing to follow the same rules, why should our customers? If the rest of the organization finds out that the IT team is taking shortcuts to avoid security controls, this will just increase the likelihood that they will make poor decisions to circumvent the controls that were originally put in place.

If the rest of the organization thinks that we don’t use the solutions we support, why should they?

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