Is Your Org, Product or Customer Centric?

All of us want to be customer-centric? Are your products and organization structured to be customer-centric?  In the book, Designing Your Organization: Using the STAR Model to Solve 5 Critical Design Challenges, the authors discuss the differences between being product-centric and customer centric.  Listen to what co-author Amy Kates says..

Adapted from the book, I have created the following survey for you to visualize where your organization is positioned.


  1. Are you looking to supply the best product or the best solution for the Customer?
  2. Is you main offering centered around new products or packages of products/services?
  3. Do you create value through cutting edge products or through customization?
  4. Do you consider your most important customers cutting edge or loyal?
  5. Do you set priorities on your portfolio of products or portfolio of customers?
  6. Is your pricing structured around the market or around risk?


  1. Is your organizational structured by product or customer segments?
  2. Are you teams developed to support products or customers?


  1. Do you put greater emphasis on new product development or customer development?
  2. Which is a greater priority, innovation or customer relationship management?


  1. Is number of new products measured or share of target market measured?
  2. Is revenue from new products measured or lifetime value of a customer?
  3. Is market share measured or customer retention?
  4. Do you reward people based on greater product or customer knowledge?


  1. Is empowerment given to meet deadlines or save customer’s business?
  2. Do you view the possible ways to use a product or the possible combination of products for a customer to use?
  3. Does your sales force consistently side with the organization or the customer during transactions?
  4. Are you more open to new ideas, experimentation or finding more customer needs?

By now the answers should be obvious. Everything on the left side of the “or” is product-centric and to the right is customer centric. Is there a right or wrong answer? Not really, it is just telling you where you are at.

If you think about the concepts in many of my previous posts about the rapid commoditization of products and the value in use concepts of Service Dominant Logic, you can see why I believe in structuring an organization around the customer is so important. The important question you must ask yourself is whether your organization is structured and positioned to do that?

You should also recognize the categories listed in the survey as the five components of the Five Star Model developed by Jay Galbraith and explained in Designing Matrix Organizations that Actually Work: How IBM, Procter & Gamble and Others Design for Success (Jossey-Bass Business & Management).

Related Information:
Scaling the Customer Decision Making Process
The Service-dominant Logic of Marketing: Dialog, Debate, And Directions
If all of us need to be marketers, what’s the framework?
PDCA from the Outside-in