“Eating your own dog food”

I used that phrase today, over at Dean Dad’s blog and after further reflection, wondered if I had, perhaps, used the phrase incorrectly. You see, “eating your own dog food” generally refers to using a product that your company sells. According to that vast storehouse of collective knowledge, Wikipedia, it has its root in the Alpo dogfood commercials, but started moving into the lexicon at Microsoft.

So, when I wrote that that the babyboomers were the ones “who argued to ‘never trust anyone over 30.’ Seems they now are being asked to ‘eat their own dogfood'” I may have been mistaken. You see, Dean Dad was essentially arguing that the current crop of Adminstrators need to move along (ref his first line “Reason #456 we need to hire the next generation of administrators”). Thus I felt that asking them (the boomers) to move along and get out of the way, was essentially reminding them not to trust anyone their own age.
But the question I have is whether it is “eating your own dog food.” It certainly is “having to take your own medicine.” And perhaps it is asking for one to “follow one’s own advice.” But is it the same as using your own product?

I argue that in this context it is. You see, Dean Dad is talking about how a service organization is run. Services are different from “goods” in that there is no tangible asset, nothing to, well, eat. So one must stretch the metaphor a bit. But in this case, I believe it works, since one is being asked to follow the management principles they at one time preached. To continue down the road of “old saws” one could say for the Boomers their “Chickens have come home to roost.”

Perhaps it is time for Boomers to acknowledge that they were wrong about something. And for the Gen X’ers to realize that their parents aren’t always wrong–and perhaps should be allowed to continue to work, and lead.


One thought on ““Eating your own dog food”

  1. Howdy Prof.

    This discussion reminds a bit of the more graphic Proverbs 26:11 –

    “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.”

    If I recall right, the “never trust anyone over 30” was a call to not trust the abstract, over-30 “establishment”, where the “establishment” which shouldn’t be trusted was anything that was disliked by comfortably tenured and established intellectuals who were mostly over 30. We are certainly continuing in this pattern today, as I would assert that “change you can believe in” is an organic version of the same dog food – or perhaps vomit would be a better word.

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