Growing Customer-Centricity

By on February 6, 2014

Many companies believe that they can develop a customer-focused organization through a command-and-control approach. The reality is that becoming customer-centered will never happen without a deep-rooted culture that allows it to flourish.

Michael Jones, in The Roots of Aliveness, introduces a brilliant metaphor for business success—the ecology of a tree. Here’s how he describes the process that most business strategies operate under:

Tree_lrgThe outer life (of the tree) is symbolized by the leaves and branches; they correspond to a life of reactivity and busyness—of action plans, performance goals, desired outcomes and results. Sometimes we direct our attention down a little, to the trunk and lower limbs. Here we look at structures, strategies and processes. Where we spend the least of our time is the ground underneath. Yet it is the roots and the soil that give the tree resilience and the strength to grow and weather sudden changes year after year.”

Imagine a corporate culture that is like a tree's root system. Instead of getting caught up in the false feeling that machine-like control, with no adaptation, leads to success, the culture would “learn to create in the moment, to inquire, and to sense and absorb." In nature, the root system knows how "to invent and change course” as needed to benefit the entire plant. Being customer-centered requires curiosity, which is open to what is emerging and which is more alive and ready to “accept a much wider range of variations and possibilities.” Being customer-centered is not mechanistic; it is natural.

“Plants can only grow as high as they grow deep,” writes Jones. Likewise, companies can only blend with their environments and customers if they are deeply rooted within values and purpose that enrich their growth. Customer-centered leaders must do a great job in being a guidance system for what the organization should value and how it should operate for its customers. Then, they need to let the employees of that organization have the freedom to find the best way to live and grow stronger.

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One Response to “Growing Customer-Centricity”

  1. [...] Growing Customer-Centricity – This analogy summarizes the optimal way a culture (of anything, really) should grow. [...]

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