Could the ASK Method have saved GitLab this embarrassing email?

I just received an insightful email from Sid Sijbrandij of GitLab.

We firmly believe GitLab has made the correct decision to pay attention to the needs and concerns of its loyal customer base.

It seems like quite an obvious thing to do, i.e. to understand the needs and concerns of their key audience and do the due diligence before making these big decisions (as explained in the letter).

That's precisely where the ASK Method excels. As certified Ask Method Professionals, we at Fusion Results develop the feedback mechanisms for organizations to provide this exact feedback prior to making huge decisions before implementation, or as in the case of GitLab pulling out prior to a large implementation going live.

Many think of the ASK Method as just being used to create sales and traffic funnels for new courses, software, products or services, but we at Fusion Results are strong advocates of using it to continue to understand the needs of existing clients too.

This example, while powerful lacks one additional component as explained in the following example.

I know of a software company that did the "right thing". They paid attention to what the market place told them was in demand. A Linux version of their Windows-only software. After spending millions in development, and possibly more in opportunity costs, the product launched.

But the sales resulted in "crickets". In this case, the problem could have been avoided by what Ryan Levesque teaches regarding segmenting client feedback into hyper responders vs regular responders, you see not all voices carry the same weight.

GitLab has paid attention to their hyper responders in this case. their more influential customers and users. Once again kudos to them for making the adjustments.

If you want to avoid this for your organization, or would like to understand your audience better, feel free to contact us.

The ASK Method is all we do, all day and every day, we have reached the highest level of ASK Method certification and that difference separates us from less qualified organizations or individuals.

Now, here's the letter that sparked this blog post.


Dear GitLab users and customers,

On October 23, we sent an email entitled “Important Updates to our Terms of Service and Telemetry Services” announcing upcoming changes. Based on considerable feedback from our customers, users, and the broader community, we reversed course the next day and removed those changes before they went into effect. Further, GitLab will commit to not implementing telemetry in our products that sends usage data to a third-party product analytics service. This clearly struck a nerve with our community and I apologize for this mistake.

So, what happened? In an effort to improve our user experience, we decided to implement user behavior tracking with both first and third-party technology. Clearly, our evaluation and communication processes for rolling out a change like this were lacking and we need to improve those processes. But that’s not the main thing we did wrong.

Our main mistake was that we did not live up to our own core value of collaboration by including our users, contributors, and customers in the strategy discussion and, for that, I am truly sorry. It shouldn’t have surprised us that you have strong feelings about opt-in/opt-out decisions, first versus third-party tracking, data protection, security, deployment flexibility and many other topics, and we should have listened first.

So, where do we go from here? The first step is a retrospective that is happening on October 29 to document what went wrong. We are reaching out to customers who expressed concerns and collecting feedback from users and the wider community. We will put together a new proposal for improving the user experience and share it for feedback. We made a mistake by not collaborating, so now we will take as much time as needed to make sure we get this right. You can be part of the collaboration by posting comments in this issue: https://gitlab.com/gitlab-com/www-gitlab-com/issues/5672. If you are a customer, you may also reach out to your GitLab representative if you have additional feedback.

I am glad you hold GitLab to a higher standard. If we are going to be transparent and collaborative, we need to do it consistently and learn from our mistakes.

Sincerely,
Sid Sijbrandij
Co-Founder and CEO
GitLab

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