Where and how does the customer empower the organization?
The customer is not a touch point she is a rich resource for the organization, fueling decisions and inspiring new questions across and deep into how we organize, make decisions about and listen to the world.
Here is a brief take from my own experience of four areas where the customer shows up to make a big difference.
1. How we organize
How do we work and think as a company to serve our customers in their situations which are cross-functional, individual and contextual?
Either the company is running a factory floor model where their operations are designed to produce outputs. Or it is designed to serve situations that emerge when the products leave the factory floor go out into the world and create value.
The problems in the latter scenario are likely deformed, asynchronous and off-beat compared to the factory model.
So how do we organize around the customer to serve the value creation (customer) and not just the value production (factory floor)?
2. How we make sense of the world
We find, describe and prioritize problems to solve based on our understanding of the world.
Collecting the insights is only one part of the process. Which models we use to organize, understand and align are equally important. There are 100’s of models to use.
- Are we using the right one? What problem are we solving?
- Are we using one translating our world into a portrait of a distant past?What world was the model originally designed to solve?
- Are we using different models ? To see the world from different perspectives?
- Is the model about us or the customer ? Are we at the center of the universe or a part of it?
3. How we make decisions
Strategies are only theories about the world: what we think it looks like, how we think we can influence it and to what effect.
Are our theories aligned to the customer, do they include the customer, are they solving a problem that is relevant to or even exist to customer (or are we solving a problem that doesn’t exist)?
Including the customer both as a partner and counter-weight to the strategic and planning decisions helps us make sure we are solving something that is real, measurable and improvable.
4. How we improve
How do we give language to, measure and learn from what we are doing — at every level of the organization?
With an organization designed to serve the customer we need to make sure we know which decisions will create the most value and where. Then design a measurement and insights system to feed these decisions. All the time making sure that we are able to balance and integrate what is valuable to the business with what is valuable to the customer (it’s a partnership only sustained through the equal exchange of value).