Tim Dietrich

Custom Software Developer

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Hope Is Not A Strategy

I continue to be amazed by the number of people who are reaching out to me about my decision to stop doing FileMaker consulting, and the blog post that I wrote explaining why I made the decision.

While I had hoped that Friday's follow-up would help to answer some of the questions that I had received, questions and comments continue to pour in, and comments that are being posted to the various online forums are now being forwarded to me as well.

Below are answers to some of those questions, and responses to some of the comments that I've received and that have been forwarded to me.

On The Platform's "Impending Demise"

Some of you have asked why I think that the platform is in trouble, and commented about its "impending demise." I want to stress that I have never said that the platform was on its deathbed.

What I did say is that I have concerns about the business side of FileMaker. As I clearly stated in my original post, some of those concerns are based on observations, while others are based purely on rumors and chatter in the community.

Regardless, I strongly believe that the platform will be around in one form or another for years to come.

The problem, of course, is that we don't know what that form will be. Which leads me to...

The "Roadmap"

Roadmap. Mission statement. Vision. Call it what you will. It really doesn't matter what form it comes in or what you call it, but I still feel that the community would benefit greatly from a clear overview of FileMaker's plans for the future.

I'm not talking about a list of features that are on the way in future versions (although that would be nice). No, I'm taking about something much bigger than that. Something that explains where the platform is headed, who it is intended for, and so on. Something that might explain some of the recent decisions that we've seen the company make. Something that helps the community make informed decisions about the platform, and whether or not it is and will continue to be a good fit for them.

Financial Reasons

Some of you have asked if there were financial reasons for my decision. No, there were not.

I don't know how other consultants are doing right now. But based on how aggressive (read "rude") some of them have been in trying to get me to turn over my clients and prospects to them, I can only assume that many are having a tough time of it.

In fact, over the past several months, I've seen a dramatic increase in the number of prospects that have approached me. I attribute that to three things: The exposure that I've been getting from writing the FileMaker book last year. The popularity of the open source solutions that I've released. And, more recently, the increased interest that has resulted from the release of the FileMaker 14 platform (something that we've seen with every release of the platform).

I find it particularly bizarre that my "Goodbye" post actually generated some leads. Go figure.

So, no. While there were a number of reasons for making the decision, none of them involved finances or a lack of business.

The Grass is Always Greener

Some of the comments that have been forwarded to me claim that my decision is simply a case of the "grass is always greener on the other wide."

My response is: Absolutely! I'm hoping that the grass will be greener on the other side.

But by "other side" I'm referring to doing a different type of work, using new tools, and most likely for different types of clients. I'm hoping that the decision that I've made will work out. Hoping that I'll enjoy this new type of work. Hoping that I'll enjoy working with new clients. And hoping that, in general, it will be a success.

But hope alone is not a strategy (and thus the title of this post). That's why I thought long and hard before making this difficult decision.

I did extensive research. I spoke with a number of people in the FileMaker community, as well as some folks that are doing the kind of work I'm interested in doing, and friends and colleagues whose opinions and advice I value and trust. I explored the tools that are available and tried to find a couple that I enjoy using. I read up on the market and tried to learn about the the types of opportunities that are available. So again, while I'm hopeful that this is a good move, I'm also hedging my bets.

And finally, some of the comments that have been forwarded to me seem to indicate that many are just going to stay the course, and that they have hope that things will "just work out" (because they always have in the past). I, too, sincerely hope that things work out for the platform and for the community.

But again, hope is not a strategy. It's not something that reassures clients or prospects.

Over-Reacting and Rage Quitting

I've also been sent comments that claim that I have simply "rage quit" or "over-reacted."

My decision isn't one that I made overnight. It wasn't the result of a single issue or incident. It's not like FileMaker crashed on me one day, and I thought, "Screw it, I'm done! This is it!" I've had plenty of those moments over the years, but my decision wasn't based on one of them.

Instead, a number of different factors came together in what you might call a "perfect storm." A storm that was a combination of frustration, concern, and a desire for change. And as I mentioned above, I took very cautious, deliberate, and time-consuming steps to prepare for this change. It's not something you can do overnight.

Going Out Loudly

There have also been accusations that I've deliberately gone out loudly, and that I am "leaving just to get a reaction and have the last word."

Really?

I've already explained why I made the decision. As for why I chose to announce it publicly, why wouldn't I? I've been very open about my business in the past, and the struggles I've faced (burnout, positioning, etc). Why should I keep this decision - which is very likely one of the biggest business/career decisions I've ever made - under wraps?

But I should also point out that I had no idea that the post would have such reach. I wasn't the one who posted it on the FileMaker Community site. I didn't post it to FaceBook. I announced it, rather sheepishly, on Twitter - and that was it.

However, I am glad that it has gotten people thinking and talking. Apparently it has struck a nerve. It's as if I've said things that people have been thinking and wanting to say themselves - collective frustration that the community has bottled up for awhile.

If FileMaker is still a good solution for you, then great. I'm happy for you, and I wish you all the best.

If it isn't a good fit for you, then I hope that the ideas and research that I've shared (and will continue to share) will help you.

Why Now?

Well, why not? As far as the issues that I raised and the concerns that I have, I've had many of them for quite awhile. I don't see things getting better. I see them getting worse.

I've realized that if I'm going to make a move, there's no better time than now. I've done the research. I've found options that work for me. And I'm ready. Or at least I think I am...

Have You Heard From FileMaker Inc?

Yes, I have. I spoke with representatives from FileMaker Inc late Friday afternoon. I truly appreciate that they reached out to me and gave me an opportunity to reiterate some of my concerns, and elaborate on the reasons for making my decision.

I'm hoping that this will clear up a few things. and I'm also hoping that this will be my final post on the "goodbye" topic. I'm anxious to move on to that greener grass on the other side...