Derek Allison's Secret Work Weapon? Focus on what matters

Derek Allison, head of customer centricity at Sony Europe, finds that challenging conventional wisdom helps him focus.

Derek Allison, head of customer centricity at Sony Europe
Derek Allison, head of customer centricity at Sony Europe

I begin each day believing that anything is possible and the only thing that stands in the way of this is the security that we all feel from keeping things the same.

However, this human need to keep things as they are is alien in nature. A start-up business has to be open to change, risk and uncertainty as it will need to evolve, enabling it to innovate, meet customer needs and grow. Over time, success can make the organisation averse to change, risk and uncertainty. It can become reliant on the profit achieved in previous years and, as a consequence, inward-looking – relying on practices that once yielded success. This can result in a loss of focus on what matters.

There is always a better way of meeting customer needs to improve commercial performance. The customer sits at the centre of any commercial organisation. Their requirements constantly evolve and conventional wisdom needs to be challenged to see how they can be better met.

For example, how you measure whether a new product meets customer needs? Conventional wisdom says you should draft a survey, ask your customers then digest their responses to find out. But what is the currency of a business? It’s sales. Aren’t sales, therefore, the best way to measure whether the product meets their needs?

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