I just sat through a three-hour workshop for CEOs on the topic of customer feedback. It made me realize just how difficult the paradigm shift from demand fulfillment to demand creation will be for most organizations. Too many companies and consultants are stuck in demand fulfillment.
Dan Sullivan, the founder of The Strategic Coach, talks about how ‘gravitational systems’ that we are unaware of hold back our progress. I realized, again, how much the gravitational system of industrial ideology is stunting the growth of organizations (both for profit and non-profit).
Demand fulfillment is an industrial-age-based activity. It is a commoditizing force. It is organizationally focused (as opposed to market focused). While it provides revenue, it will not sustain profitability (for more about this, go to Frederick Reichheld’s new book, “The Ultimate Question”). Demand fulfillment provides the illusion of prudence and safety. It is based upon the idea of asking the customer what they want and giving it to them.
What is wrong with that, you may ask. If the customer tells you what they want, it is the customer who has done all of the work. You have created no value. No customer ever wanted The Blair Witch Project, Forest Gump, Star Trek, Star Wars, the CD, the iPod, iTunes, or the desktop computer. I could go on.
All of these creations were the result of an individual or an organization looking past what customers were aware of, to the results they truly desired. They identified the gaps that existed that prevented those desires from being reality and they created demand. They also created successful endeavors and tremendous equity value.
Fulfill demand at your own risk.
Until next time, Doug