“Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.”
When it comes to OSS, your answers are out with the customers rather than back in the office. Relationships, trust and true understanding of customer needs (and problems) only happens by working face to face with your customers.
Even the back office developers need to work with the customer first hand on a regular basis rather than via an analyst’s specs or their own assumptions of what the customer needs. I’ve seen too many OSS developers who never leave their offices and produce product that doesn’t meet real customer needs or overcome real customer problems.
But it’s a fine line. You don’t necessarily want to do everything under their watchful gaze either.
How much time do you spend with your customers?