Tuesday, February 7, 2012

#38 / Who Is Your Customer?

The literature focused on business advice now often poses the question: "Who is your customer?" It's a question designed to provoke the right kind of introspection by those engaged in almost any kind of activity - and not just business activity.

A book review of Change.edu, printed in the Monday, February 6, 2012 edition of The Wall Street Journal, explores the responses received when the "Who is your customer?" question was put to those whose are in charge of our institutions of higher learning.

I am interested in how governmental leaders might react to the question. I know, in fact, how many Planning Directors answer the "Who is your customer?" question. They think their "customer" is the person who appears at the Planning Counter, wanting to carry out some project or another for which they must obtain a governmental permit. The elected officials who establish the procedures by which such applications are judged can often end up adopting the same perspective. Unfortunately, that answer to the question, in the governmental context, is almost totally wrong.

In the context of applications by individuals to carry out projects requiring governmental approvals, the "customer" is not the applicant; it's the public.

When elected officials and Planning Directors forget that, the results are not good!

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