Killing a Killer-Bad Habit

At the beginning of a recent strategic planning project, I used a survey to get the lay of the land, generate ideas, and stimulate the thinking of those who would be involved in the process. I asked several questions about cause and needs, for example: What are the barriers to customer success? What customer needs is no one meeting?

Many of the respondents leaped over cause and need, and went straight to solutions.

  • What are the barriers to customer success?
    We need to provide a more complete set of offerings such as …
  • What customer need goes unserved?
    We should …

This is not at all uncommon. I am certain that these people have no idea that they did not answer my questions.

But this is a bad habit because you can’t satisfy your customers if you don’t take the time to understand their needs. If your first thought involves your capabilities or desired capabilities, you will miss the mark.

And you can’t solve a problem if you don’t get to the underlying cause. What is preventing your customers from achieving greater success? The cause of their problems may be your path to opportunity.

Organizations waste ridiculous quantities of money and time developing products and systems that miss mark because they skip over cause and need, and jump right to solutions.