Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Out of the box

I am a big fan of the food network. I like the shows where there are challenges between chefs with time limits. I was watching Chopped the other night, and a chef described their cooking as "out of the box". In this context, the chef was saying that his cooking was different then standards and what everyone else might think. Out of the box means creative, inspired, or other words you'd use when describing an outcome of developing art.

In software, "out of the box" means "off the shelf", "as is", "vanilla", "standard", etc. Everyone that gets this software and uses it as they got it, gets the same thing as everyone else.

What's interesting is that sometimes out of the box is desirable and not desirable, but never have I heard anyone say on the cooking channel that they prefer an "off the shelf" chef making "standard" food.

Out of the box software and maintaining the "out of the box"ness is good for upgrades, maintenance, feature additions, etc.  But being "standard" means someone else out there, or specifically, your competitors, are using the same "box", and then what edge do you have?

If you are asking "what have your other customers done?", I think you are on the wrong track. More time should be spent on "what can we do differently?".

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