[my grandmother, Aoki Nobu’s manekineko in front of a ceramic cat painted by my daughter, Miya]

In January, I had the privilege of meeting, John Maeda. One of the perks of working for Gerry Laybourne is the circle of associates she can bring to a wicked problem.

By coincidence, Mr. Maeda and I both grew up in Seattle. My mom is Japanese and I remember visiting his family’s Star Tofu Bakery. The whole Maeda family worked together to make the tofu the authentic Japanese way. Served as hiyayakko, chilled and fresh, it was the best tofu I’ve ever tasted.

In a grand display of traditional Japanese customer service, John described how his father would open the door for his customers as they arrived and again as they left.

This image struck Gerry as a deep truth her company should strive for in its relations to its customers.

As my team works on a consumer software initiative for Gerry, we need to embrace the guiding principle that our work is all for the end user. Business value derives from serving their needs. We have tried to embrace this principle by using our agile practices to rally around our product owner’s vision, testing our software with prospective end users and listening to them. Feedback from prospective users has changed both our feature set and our release roadmap.

In how we approach our customers we must always welcome them with courtesy, listen to them respectfully, serve them as best we can and thank them on the way out.

Mr. Maeda’s observations about Oxygen.