I am all for operational excellence. I'm all for Customer-centric and Product Definition. But I'm really for the two integrated together. Often OPEX is used as justification for projects without looking at whether and customer benefit exists. Usually it does (cost savings is always passable down to the consumer); nonetheless, it should be explicitly examined on each project.
Which brings me to the point of this post: companies are either customer-centric or they aren't. That is, they either take the customer's viewpoint in everything they do, or they don't.
Here's a great example: customer surveys. How often have we seen these initiated by companies claiming to be customer-centric - that's the reasoning behind the survey, after all... to get customer data - only to ask customers a bunch of questions that offer no benefit to the customer.
Reagan's postulate: customer surveys are performed by companies that aren't paying attention to their customers! There are plenty of ways to collect consumer data, from secondary research (not all secondary research has actionable data, but some does), to monitoring consumer touchpoints, to forums, to analyzing sales behavior, etc. Customer surveys are band-aids masking problems a company has in lack.
This occurred to me recently... the companies that ask for my opinion the most are the ones that do the worst job taking care of me, the customer. Coach, who repairs their products that break without question, has never had to send a customer survey to ask how they are doing. They know - they know what customers want, they deliver it.
Perhaps that's a strategy of companies that do not focus on the customer. How low of a bar can we set? Then survey their customer base to see if they are passing the bar.
Know thy customer. And that doesn't mean send them a questionnaire to fill out...