How do you determine your firm’s direction? You look at client needs and alter strategies based on the changing business landscape. However, in an article in MIT Sloan Management Review by Michael Schrage, (Winter 2015) he challenges organizations and leaders to Embrace Your Ignorance. If you think you know your client and know what your client is going to do in the future, Schrage suggests that you think again. Further, he says that executives who are relying on their expertise to simply “think” of what’s best for their customers are making a massive mistake. Savvy firms take the time to run experiments and gather real time data from their clients before making directional decisions and that takes courage. To quote him, “Successful innovators … run experiments not because they can confidently predict what the outcomes will be – but precisely because they can’t. They’re less interested in validating their hypotheses than in challenging their assumptions.” Successful leaders acknowledge that they can’t guess accurately what their customers want – not even half the time. In other words, make the investment of running an experiment to find out whether your client wants service A or service B from your firm. In my experience, if you ask your client directly what they want, they not only appreciate it, they are more likely to buy it!
Ann Banning - Wright