CEOs lean into 'dog-fooding'

Some companies are encouraging their staff and leadership teams to get their hands dirty by "dog-fooding," a term that refers to testing your own products and working on the front-lines, the Financial Times reported May 2. 

The food delivery company DoorDash has created an employee program called WeDash, which requires all salaried employees to make a certain amount of DoorDash deliveries per month to get closer to the customer experience. This includes the co-founder of the app, Andy Fang, who says the program embodies the company's values of being "customer-obsessed". 

On New Year's Eve every year, John Zimmer, the co-founder and president of Lyft, drives for the ride hailing service, picking up and dropping off customers. Brian Chesky, the CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, also stays in rental properties every few weeks. 

While this connection to customers helps leaders understand the realities of their product, others argue it only provides a slight glimpse of their front-line workers' experiences. 

"I personally would argue anything you can do to get closer to your customer in any way, shape or form is great," Jennifer McFadden, associate director of Yale School of Management, told the Financial Times. "I do think that does help you build empathy with your end user, but you really can't understand that role unless you jump in, your salary is dependent on it, you are feeding your family based upon that salary, you’re working 14-hour days."

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