In a working session on a growth topic with a group of business units in a Fortune 100 company, we asked them, “Why can’t you grow your business?”
Among the many responses, one leading response was “We are too inwardly focused even though we think we are not.”
We dug into the main causes of inward focus and came up with one major issue, Leadership Mindset stuck in today’s business model: “We know who our customers are, what our customers want, and will they pay for. If something changes they will let us know.” This head-in-the-sand attitude is one of the most difficult to address because it assumes your customers knows their market’s unmet needs, and if they do, that they will let you know so you can react. Leaders who behave this way don’t recognize they have a problem until it is too late to act.
The key is to recognize that you may not know what your customers need because they may not know what their customers want. Thus, you will need to learn the larger market unmet needs, and the current gaps in your customer’s value proposition, and aim your value proposition at the customer’s customer. Do not fall into the trap creating internally generated product concepts, or even worse new products until you have completed building the market analytics.