From BoingBoing today (guest blogger Clay Shirky!):

Mark Hurst, the user experience expert [at MeetUp.com], talks about Tesla — “time elapsed since labs attended” — a measure of how long it’s been since a company’s decision-makers (not help desk) last saw a real user dealing with their product or service. Measured in days, Meetup approaches a Tesla of 1.

Coincidentally, last week I suggested that we should have a company policy to allow all employees to have an opportunity to see a real person use our web site at least once every few months. I would think that MeetUp’s staff don’t number much above 20, so in a company numbering rather more than 10 times that, a low TESLA count measured in months wouldn’t be too bad.

Of course, this wouldn’t speed up our development cycle, but it might put a fire under some of us! I still have doubts as to exactly how “dead simple” it would be to recruit – and keep recruiting – normal people off the street every day. See my comment on the post – people (bless ’em) are all different, and the meet-and-greet overhead alone would be significant at least for somebody. But it’s certainly worth trying to institute.

I’m also tempted to make a comment about whether MeetUp.com is any better or worse for this technique. But I won’t.