All About the Customer
Inspired by Peter Drucker's "Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices."December 2, 2010 By Ed Sachs
As last Thursday marked another Thanksgiving, we, like so many other families around the country, went around the table and asked everyone what they were most thankful for this past year. When it was my turn, I watched as my wife, sons and other experienced members of our table began to make this face-the one I call the, "What will he come up with this time?" face.
The remainder of the guests were soon wearing the same face before I finished my long list. Eventually, everyone at the table had raised brows and eyeballs rolling when I stated how thankful I was for Peter Drucker. No, we have no Drucker relatives and the closest we even came to uttering the Drucker name was when I stated that I felt like "getting drunker" after the creative way in which the Dallas Cowboys found to lose to New Orleans.
I was, of course, thinking of the great management thinker and his 1973 book, "Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices." More specifically, I was referring to the wisdom of Mr. Drucker, who wrote what I think are the most important five words in that book: "The customer defines the business."
Why when friends and family were gathered and the mood was gay and festive and the Cowboys game had yet to start, would I even think of this? It was during that moment on Thanksgiving 2010 that I wondered how much better this country would be if its government would learn those five words. By golly, those words should have somehow found themselves into our founding documents! You just knew I would pull that all together if you just waited long enough.
It was especially apparant on Nov. 2 in explaining what happened in the elections for both the federal and state legislatures around the country. I also feel that not listening to the customer explains how we have instituted what amounts to sexual assault and the dismissal of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution at our airports Much like in 70 percent of businesses today and in 100 percent of government, we find that no one is listening to the customer- let alone running their business around their demands.
The timing is perfect in these next few weeks for all businesses to take heed of what the customer is bypassing on retail shelves this season. However, what may be even more important is to understand why consumers are returning many of these products. A truly tuned-in manufacturer will "hear" why products are being returned and use that information in developing new products. Especially when they hear that many of their products were "good ideas" but simply way too complex to use or understand.