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Are You Missing This Critical Person on Your Strategy Team?

April 4, 2013

Customers, DIY Workshop, Study

Customer Research at StrategyDIY

Business Strategy Workshops have quite the reputation – formal, difficult, intense.  I get request for business strategy workshop agendas, templates, and ideas (HMMM, maybe I need to put something together for our community . . .).   It’s as if many of us are afraid to just grab some people and start talking; hammer out some ideas and go from there.

Ah, HA!  Therein lies another of the challenges in pulling off a Strategy Workshop.  We can’t decide who to grab.  Who to involve in building our business strategies is something all of us will struggle with.

Who is The Strategy Team?

Only leadership team?  Key talent?  Someone from every department?  My wife?  My buddies?

Clearly, we want people that can help us in the process.  People that can add value to our business strategy.  People that might have some great insights and cool ideas are always fantastic additions to a strategic team.

But how can we decide?  Who really are the people that we absolutely want to have working with us to build our strategy?

I’m going to throw out what might be a radical idea.

The people we must absolutely have involved in building our business strategy are . . .

CUSTOMERS

Is that the first idea that came into your head?

If we don’t have our customers (clients, accounts, purchasers – pick your term of choice) as a core component of our business strategy, it doesn’t matter who we pick from within our circles to be involved.  Our strategy will fail.

I’ve seen too many strategy teams work tirelessly on their business strategy using “internal  assumptions” of customer needs/wants and market trends.  I call these “institutional beliefs” – those opinions turned “facts” within companies or teams.  When someone throws a customer fact at me (e.g. our customers are only focused on price; we can’t talk to them about new services), I pressure test for “institutional belief” with a simple question “How do we know that?”  Many times, there won’t be a solid source for the data.  So I send my team out to get a real ‘fact’ and a real ‘source’.

Back to the topic at hand.

Good strategy absolutely requires our customers are involved.  That our customers are key players in the strategic process.

Some ways we can do this:

  • Invite customers into our strategic workshops (THE HORROR!)
  • Get sales people involved (real field sales people, not the managers)
  • Do focus groups or other market research often (not just once – an here’s a great resource for you)
  • Create an advisory board of key customers or key ‘target’ customers

Do anything to get more access to your customers, especially during a period of strategic decision-making.

Your action: get one new customer insight this next week and then come back and add into comments below some of the other ways we could get the customer into our strategy process.

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