Take a chair.
I’ve been fortunate to have seen Gary Hamel (London Business School) half a dozen times and to also have lunch with him and have the opportunity to question one of the best business brains alive today.
Last week I saw him being interviewed and as always, his insight and key message was so on point.
“Every industry in the world today is being reinvented from the customer backwards. New companies are coming along deeply understanding customer pain points and frustration and reinventing industries. We’ve seen this in publishing, travel, music, banking, hotels and so on. So I would say that the first role of any leader today is to be an advocate for the customer. To spend time with customers to understand their unarticulated needs, the frustrations they have, the anxieties they have – you cannot take any customer for granted today. The web has fundamentally shifted the power between customers and producers in favour of the customer. So the leader’s first responsibility is to their customers, you have to be willing to challenge every internal rule, every internal orthodox that you have, to serve the customer better. If you’re not willing to do that and if you’re not out there with them understanding their needs deeply yourself you’ll have a competitor that will solve a problem that you didn’t even see.”
Gary Hamel, speaking for WOBI, November 2020.
I’ll always remember a great piece of advice one of our members shared a few years ago. Whenever she attended an internal meeting she always made sure there was one empty chair at the table. As issues were debated she would wait and see if anyone was asking questions from the customers perspective and if not she would turn to the empty chair and ask, “and what does the customer think about this?”
There have been several high profile business launches recently as well as many new product launches and innovations – I predict that the successful ones are those who have put the customers interest first.
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