“If there is one thing that is certain in business, it’s uncertainty”
Industries have been disrupted with adaptive and nimble startups and the shelf life of ‘Cash Cows’ is diminishing due to the shorter product lifecycles. Many corporations and small and medium-sized businesses are in a dilemma on how to deal with the existing volatile business environment. Many of the businesses that are excelling within the same volatile situation have been developing a mindset of Customer Centricity.
Within his book Customer Centricity: Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage, Peter Fader states that “Customer centricity is a strategy that aligns a company’s development and delivery of its products and services with the current and future needs of a select set of customers to maximize their long-term financial value to the firm”. Successfully executing Fader’s definition of customer-centricity will no doubt lead to profitable & growing businesses. However, as with many beliefs & terminologies, there are numerous definitions proposed by authors, academics & entrepreneurs for customer centricity, I would like to look at the belief from an Agile perspective.
Customer Centricity is the Spirit of Agile
For those of you who are familiar with Agile and its manifesto, you may recognise the following, “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software”. This is the first principle of the Agile manifesto and sets the standard for why Agile teams are in existence — it is to provide value to their customers.
One area of Agile that has grown significantly in the past decade is the ‘Lean Start-up’ approach. Eric Ries book Lean Start-up provides incisive thoughts on how focusing on the customer can bring success to the business/start-up, here are a few below:
· Success is not about developing a new feature; success is learning how to solve the customers’ problem
· If we do not know who the customer is, we do not know what quality is