Why I don’t believe in “Treat your co-workers like they’re a customer.”

I once worked for a CIO that said “The Senior Developer is your customer.” My role as the software architect was to meet the objectives of the project, protect the business from fraud, align with future vision of the product, among others. The Senior Developer and I were at complete odds when it came to implementation, he was prioritizing expediency and simplicity, I was prioritizing anti-fraud while trying not to make it so complex that we couldn’t deliver on time and in budget. We were at a complete impasse.  And then this C-level tells me “treat him like he’s your customer”. What the fuck does that even mean in this context? What about our customers that are actually paying us?  Same response, over, and over, and over.

Can you imagine a quarterback treating a receiver like they’re a customer? What about the receiver heading towards the end zone with two blockers? Who is the customer then? Take a time out and figure it out? Are you shitting me?

You’re on the same fucking team, work together to get the ball over in the end zone. That’s your objective. You’re not each other’s customers. Anyone who tells you to treat your co-worker like they’re your customer doesn’t know how to lead a team.