Monday, December 14, 2009

Understanding And Listening

If management lessons from a super-prime, niche restaurant are transferable to more mainstream businesses, this HBS case study might make a compelling case for allowing some operational inefficiencies to persist for the business to thrive. Even it were not possible, there is much to ponder over the elBulli success story. Per chef Ferran AdriĆ 's "Creativity comes first; then comes the customer". Not exactly the same thought, but a riff in similar vein is Seth Godin's advise on choosing the right customer and knowing who to turn down.

Very often vendors will bend over backwards, meet patently absurd demands from the client, over-commit and under-deliver and everything else that goes with an engagement (and later a relationship) from hell. The problem is exactly as Godin puts it : Marketers rarely think about choosing customers... like a sailor on shore leave, we're not so picky. Huge mistake.

AdriĆ  has probably taken Godin's idea of being selective about customers to an extreme and has been able to do so because of the business he is in. Clearly it is no recipe for universal sucess but there is much to be said for "the distinction between understanding and listening to customers" - something most business can profit from learning to do well.

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