One value discipline at the expense of the others

It is not a question of feasibility, if you wish for your deliverables to have full customer intimacy, the best product AND the smartest procedures. On closer look even the desire as such is unrealistic. Who actually wants what? Usually the customers decide for one of the three sides. The company’s decision-makers are those, who want to convey their priorities to the employees. However, the shot goes backwards, if they go to max in all dimensions. With such a direction they miss their duty as a leader to decide. The usual saying is: Do one thing and don’t let the other. Nevertheless, a preferred value discipline must be selected, because it can only be implemented at the expense of others.

Of course, you can wish for the impossible. Nonetheless that doesn’t help anybody. Far from it. Maximizing all value disciplines at the same time can cost the company its life, because it will fail in any case. Those who now feel an objection arising, should definitely read on. Let’s take a look at the three dimensions.

  • Customer intimacy
    Jones, Smith, Williams – of course you know your customers. At least their name, address and, with the smart reporting system, also their sales. Customer intimacy only emerges when you respond to the personal needs of the customer, which leads to individual goods and services tailored to each customer.
    However, this is only possible at the expense of the best offers, which would deliver the latest technology and design, as well as through lean processes that would be characterized by standardization and restriction to the essential.
    The tailor-made suit is the result of the close interplay between tailor and customer.
  • Product leadership
    A world-renowned brand sets the benchmark for other suppliers in the respective business field. Therefore it is always necessary to include the latest technical and design options – before the competitors will. This fosters higher prices and the necessary hype with the appropriate marketing.
    However, this is at the expense of the wishes of individual customers, whose needs are shaped above all by their past experience, as well as at the expense of improved processes that would always lag behind innovations.
    Apple provided with the Macintosh a computer that was created by the ideas of the Apple programmers and the designers of Frogdesign out of the Black Forest, Germany.
  • Process leadership
    The procedures determine the quality of the execution of the real tasks. The focus here is on the interplay between the involved departments, the avoidance of unnecessary activities and the reliable repeatability of the work steps in order to be able to generate a large volume quickly and timely with the least possible use of means.
    However, this is at the expense of the wishes of individual customers, who could delay the entire procedure and at the expense of the latest state of goods and services.
    The food discounters, such as Aldi and Lidl, are able to offer the best prices through the prosaic sale directly off the pallet.

Bottom line: It is clear, of course, that the decision for one value discipline does not mean that the others can be completely disregarded. Customer intimacy does not take place, if the article does not provide a certain maturity and the customers cannot rely on the fact that the procedures lead to a fail-safe delivery. Product leadership without a sufficient understanding of the customers and consistent procedures damage the reputation of the products and services. Process leadership requires the consideration of the needs of the customers as well as deliverables, for which the customers are willing to pay. What is not possible is a top position in all three dimensions, because

  • Customer intimacy that excludes the for many people attractive products and standardized procedures,
  • Product leadership does not take into account the individual customer wishes and procedures, and
  • Process leadership does not succeed to satisfy every customer request and does not provide the most original product.

This is valid even if today the Internet improves the direct interaction with the customers, new services can be delivered faster to the people and workflows become more flexible in real time. The determined value discipline that defines success at the expense of the others is the difference that makes the difference.