by Michael Hoffman, CEO at Gather Voices
Dogfooding is the idea that you should be using your own product, heeding your own advice, or — to use another expression — practicing what you preach.
The origin of this phrase isn’t well known. Warren Harrison from Portland State University wrote:
Back in the 1980s when actor Lorne Greene served as the pitchman for Alpo dog food, the TV commercials were careful to point out that he indeed fed Alpo to his dogs. So, the idea that someone would use the products they were making became known as “eating your own dog food.” An alternative explanation for the term I’ve heard is that each year the president of Kal Kan Pet Food would eat a can of the company’s dog food at the annual shareholders’ meeting.
We don’t really know the origin but we do know it sounds kind of gross. Someone once said to me, “I much rather say, ‘we are drinking our own champagne.'”
I was reminded of dogfooding when I saw that some folks responsible for public health were not going to self-quarantine or wear a mask even though they were exposed to someone who has the virus.
If you want people to self-quarantine and wear masks, you need to drink your own champagne by being in quarantine and wearing a mask! If you don’t care whether they follow the guidelines, then hey, don’t worry about it. Do as I say and not as I do is not a recipe for success.
Associations exist to bring people together. They act as the glue that holds professions and industries together so that they can speak as one voice on policy, to set standards and to advance the profession.
Bringing people together isn’t easy right now. But if you are an association leader, it’s your job to figure it out. While this virtual event thing might be way outside your comfort zone, you need to embrace it. You need to dive in and learn, test drive the technology, attend the webinars and read the case studies. This is your job!
It is in this critical moment that eating your own dog food, or drinking your own champagne is more important than ever.