John Gruber writes about a leaked email from Yahoo executives beseeching employees to switch from Outlook to Yahoo’s own mail product. It’s kind of sad, and as Gruber points out, wrongheaded:

If your employees are only using your own products or services because they have to, or feel obligated to out of some sort of loyalty, you’re losing.

At work, my team builds internal tools. I have no interest in imposing those tools on anyone. It’s our job to build tools that people want to use, or prefer to use over the other available alternatives. I welcome the competition, because participating in the marketplace of ideas sharpens our work and keeps us honest. When I see people doing their own analysis work rather than using something we built to make that work easier, it’s clear that we’re failing to build the right things or to communicate about them effectively.

Duplicated effort can be a waste, but it’s not as wasteful as demand that people use tools that make them less productive and happy. These sorts of mandates are what gave us generations of internal tools that are profoundly worse in terms of usability than widely available consumer software. I like it when people user our software, and more importantly, I like it when people choose to use our software. This kind of internal protectionism at companies weakens the teams involved, it doesn’t protect them.