Mea Culpa


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

May 01, 2011 GMT
Jon maddog Hall


I believe that one of the measures of an adult is to have the ability to admit “I was wrong”. While I am not happy when I am wrong, I take pride in the fact that I often give people the benefit of the doubt, and when I am wrong I freely admit it. I believe that once you admit your mistake, and apologize if necessary to any offended people, you can then move on to the next task and try to do better the next time.


One of my first managers was a very bright man who could not say the words “I was wrong”. It took the people under him a while to realize this, but one day we were sitting around the lunch table and it occurred to us that we had never heard him say that phrase, or anything close to it. While he was really very intelligent, no human is perfect, so we kept careful score after that.


It was about two weeks before I left my first job to accept a teaching position that I was put into a situation where I was obviously right and my manager was obviously wrong. By this time I and my co-workers had become fairly demoralized due to this flaw in his character, so I decided to push the issue, since I had already tendered my resignation and was preparing to leave the group, cleaning up the issues and tasks that I had outstanding.


At a team meeting I carefully laid out my entire argument, inserting his previous (incorrect) statements, until it was painfully obvious that I was correct, and my manager was wrong. I then looked to my manager and said “Don't you think in this case you were wrong?”


The manager looked at me strange, and started to say “Jon, I was........” and he made a sort of strangling sound. He tried again, “Jon, I ...I...Jon...YOU WERE RIGHT.”


I looked at him and said, “You can not say the words 'I was wrong'. That is a problem for you, and I would really advise psychological treatment.” With that I left the room.


What reminded me of this interaction was the recent issues around Apple and the “location” data on the iPhone.


As a friend of mine pointed out, yet another issue with Apple seems to have been blown up out of proportion. Yet the “issues” that I remember:

  • the antenna problem
  • the alarm issue
  • the app store removing apps
  • the location issue

all tended to follow the same pattern:

  • customer(s) finding an issue
  • Apple telling them they were wrong, or holding the phone incorrectly, or “it does not matter”
  • issue blowing up out of proportion
  • Apple fixing the problem

Perhaps this is some type of twisted marketing campaign, but as a customer I would really prefer this type of scenario:

  • customer(s) find an issue
  • Apple saying “hmmm, that is interesting, let us look at it”
  • Apple acknowledging the issue
  • Apple fixing the problem

Please do not think this is “Apple bashing”. I tell people all the time that Apple makes good products, and I can even elaborate on why I think this is true. I will also continue to state that I do not buy Apple products because I believe them to be “closed”, and “closed” products are not something I want to buy. But I do not condemn other people because they want to buy the products. I do not want to "bash Apple"....instead I want to see them become an even better company.


And I know that Apple fixes lots of issues without having them reach the U.S. Congress for resolution, or even a class action lawsuit. But please....Apple...just train your top executives in saying these two simple phrases:

  • “Hmmmm....that is interesting, let us look at it”
  • “Mea is the fix”

Then we can go back to life as it should be lived.


Carpe Diem!

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