thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer

Right-Brain Business Goals (I)

By on July 8, 2009

Much has been written recently about right-brain thinking—and it is long overdue. Business has traditionally been left-brained, but its ability to search for greater efficiencies and to innovate while lowering costs has reached a plateau. The new opportunity to take performance to the next level is through right-brain thinking. A shift to this approach signifies a renewal in strategy back to the way our customers us want to interact with them.

One of the thought leaders in this category is Dan Pink, most deliberately in A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. Right-brainers reason holistically, recognize patterns and interpret emotions. Here are some reference points:
• Right-brain interprets things simultaneously, while the left brain is sequential.
• Right-brain specializes in context; while the left brain sees text.
• Right-brain synthesizes the big picture; while the left brain analyzes details.
• Right-brain focuses on relationships; while the left brain focuses on categories.

Right-brain people tend to approach every business situation from the customer's point of view. Customer-centered thinking puts us in a position to notice things we hadn't noticed before; the more vigorous the reorientation in this direction, the greater the potential for innovation and breakthroughs in our business. It puts demands on our imagination. It enlarges our approach to decision-making and sets it free. The ‘Freedom' graphic with this post was designed by Frederic Terral, founder/designer, and is an incredibly creative take on the opportunities that right-brain thinking presents.

A right-brain approach can also serve as a lie detector for our products and services that were created in an analog world. In the face of technological advances, Pink calls this ‘high-touch", with credit given Megatrends author, John Naisbitt, who wrote, "Whenever new technology is introduced into society, there must be a counterbalancing human response—that is, high touch."

Right brain thought is a specialty skill (just as left-brain thought is) and should force our organizations to challenge each decision with a test of how it will affect the customer. The most distinctive feature of a customer-centric business is the way it implicitly anticipates and responds to the changes that are induced and valued by its customers. Certainly there will be tension between the right- and left-brain approaches to serving customers. It should not be an obstacle to performance, but, instead, one of its prime resources. It should energize us. It should balance our strategy as both sides work together.

There is a whole new category of business performance in which both sides must work together. Right-brain thinking is essential to catalyze our services and to temper the narrowness of left-brain solutions. Being customer-centric is right-brained and expansive. Part II of this post will address how we can actually propel this underutilized perspective to set right-brain business goals that will jump-start business growth.


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