a banner with the text 'we hear you'

But they all have one thing in common. They emphasise customer focus in their strategy as one of their core values; however, this is often difficult to put into practice. Internal organisational silos and an inside-out perspective are often more common than a constant focus on the surrounding world.

From that inside-out perspective, a strategy often flows automatically that is about what they want to achieve as a company rather than how you as a company can support your customers in fulfilling their needs. Whereas we, and many other smart people, believe that the core of any strategy should be a strong validated value proposition, reinforced by a strong business model.

Really want to understand

To understand people and, more specifically, why they buy your products and services, you must thoroughly understand how they perceive the value they get from your product or service and how they perceive you as a service provider. These great insights have the potential to transform organisations by ensuring that employees and management all make decisions based on the real needs and context of their customers.

Sounds great, of course. And quite simple too.

But human behaviour is complex. To anticipate this behaviour for a longer period of time would involve immense complexity and potentially a waste of time. Understanding and successfully navigating needs in a business context requires facts and defined feedback loops to stay in touch with the user's voice.

We need the ability to discover what is meaningful to people in order to get to the heart of why that is. You don’t achieve this just by asking. You need a culture of experimentation that allows you to systematically map assumptions and turn them into knowledge.

Make a clear break with the present

But this requires a clear break with the present. And yet many traditional tools for strategy are better equipped to map and understand existing strategies that invent new ones.

Truly game-changing customer-centric strategies are born as a result of embracing uncertainty as a source for identifying new opportunities. To achieve this, a powerful drive is needed to explore users’ needs and free them from all assumptions. Only then can you discover ideas from a new perspective that are in line with real needs and not clouded by existing knowledge.

This can often be seen as a loss of control and challenges the type of linear thinking we learned during our school years. However, the world has become less predictable and there is much more noise, which affects our ability to make clear bold decisions and to move away from the familiar.