Bcharleson - thanks for your thoughtful post. We too are sad that you won’t be getting a TextBlade, but glad you could exercise your freedom to choose, and hope it was fast and hassle-free for you.
We’re proud to have several family members in the military (retired from USAF SAC and Seal Team Six), and we greatly admire the discipline and standards of decision-making for military work.
The military is organized around operational excellence. This is appropriate and necessary for the nature of defense work, and also for operations-centric commercial enterprises, like FedEx for example.
New technology is created from a different core ethic - innovative excellence. This is a very different arena, and demands a different focus. Product excellence is by far the most defining pillar, and it absolutely must be right. You must be aggressive and willing to put forth extraordinary effort and sacrifice to achieve great leaps in performance.
Sometimes that means sacrificing near term profit, or suffering through humbling delays, or lost opportunities to commune with customers, or not seeing your family - all in order to drive hard to get the product right. That is a hard choice you’re sometimes forced to make make if you are committed to delivering something great.
That said, no enterprise, whether focused on innovation or operating efficiency, can ever do enough to communicate perfectly with its customers. Yet all enterprises should try.
We expect that our communication will look quite a bit more shiny once we’re shipping. We also think that shipping great stuff is the ultimate form of communication, and where our customers want our minds right now. We’re sorry we’re clearly less communicative while our heads are down to get this right.
We set hard goals for ourselves, to purposely push the envelope of what can be done. When you work to achieve what no one else has, you must adopt this posture.
We don’t pad our estimates, and that leaves us vulnerable to criticism, but it also forces us to keep our edge. Padding estimates can make you look like a hero on paper, but for milestones that are not so remarkable or valuable. It also can easily devolve into institutionalizing a ponderously slow and watered-down approach (as is common, not accidentally, in large defense programs). Hyper cautious approaches kill dynamic innovation.
We’ve layed our process out it in the open and tell folks what we’re doing. We make estimates, which clearly reflect our optimistic bias toward what’s possible.
Some folks nonetheless like to reframe our estimates as guarantees and promises, and then chide us for "breaking’’ them if it ends up taking longer. That seems a bit unfair to us, but we still publish their point of view.
We respect the world you come from bcharleson, and how you see things, and certainly regret we can’t meet all your expectations while also holding fast to our standards.
We hope you too can see us for who we are, and the delightfully useful advances a different culture might bring to you. We also hope that we did right by you by honoring your wishes.
p.s. - thanks also to misterb, who put care and craft into his writings, to sort through his conflicting feelings for the benefit of others who might be in a conundrum.
That each of you would put time and care into explaining your choices rather than simply moving on is quite remarkable. It is in some way a measure of how the promise of this new technology might really matter, and that you chose to write about it means quite a lot to us.