Constant Customer Focus

Beyond Budgeting, Open Space, Sociocracy, and Agile (BOSSA nova) have lots to say about constant customer focus. When combined, they make a powerful statement!

Here is what BOSSA nova has to say about constant customer focus:

1) “Organize to serve your customer. Organize each facet of the company around coordinating services offered to any one customer. The kind of work and the customer’s convenience should drive the review and reallocation of resources, not the calendar.”

Value stream analysis, Sociocracy workflow, and Design Thinking are each valuable tools for depicting the fundamental organization of production for serving the customer. They offer three different vocabularies. It is important to be aware of the underlying patterns and not identify them with a particular vocabulary.

Customer focus should be everyone’s aim, the reason they are working together as a team. It helps to use cross-functional teams so that the customer focus is understood from all angles (different perspectives). Furthermore, enable the staff to follow their passion for doing work that matters and delights their customers, passion bounded by responsibility.

2) “Establish a bidirectional relationship with your customer. Ensure that the customer can learn from the deliveries and that the company can learn from the customer – both throughout the production process.”

One way to understand the end users’ needs is to use the concept of personas to build scenarios, or rather user stories, to comprehend how the product or service will help solve the end users’ problems. Consider establishing a Product Owner function to maintain and develop a bidirectional relationship.

Create a minimum viable product, for testing the waters, and be sure to get early and frequent feedback from your customer. Building the right thing means iterate, iterate, and iterate again.

3) “Ensure your budgeting approach is flexible toward customer and market needs. Do not fix the budget long-term upfront; make budgeting fit the customer focus.”

Eliminate time wasted by deleting (or at least reducing) the activities and processes that are not focusing on the customer as uncovered by a value stream analysis. Thus, don’t make the customer wait.

Also, have performance reviews, individual goals, and incentives aligned with the customer focus, including board members and the board team. The process is to hold performance reviews where the goals and incentives focus on the customer.

4) “Enable your board of directors to be open to feedback from and measurement by the customer”

One step toward building customer focus on the board is to include representatives elected from the staff as full members on the Board. Another step is to include outside representatives who have different perspectives on the customer. Include customer feedback on the agenda of each board meeting. In general, establish multi-stakeholder control of the company. Address this fundamental issue by providing a specific legal structure to establish the multi-stakeholder environment.

This article is the third in a planned series prepared from our new book: Company-Wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space, and SociocracyChapter 5, Constant Customer Focus. The first two articles were on Self Organization and Transparency. Look for the next article will be on Continuous Learning!

Jutta & John