1.2 Who is the customer?

Who are we adding value to?

Determine the main stakeholder

The customer is our reference, the one that experiences ‘value’ or not

Who is the customer may seem to be obvious but you might find out it is not…

To whom are we sending the output of this process? Is this really ‘the customer’? Is it one party or are there more customers?

  • Ask yourselves: to whom is this output ultimately a ‘value’ and how
    is this ‘value’ related to the organizations goals. Be strict in this! In Step 2: Make the Loss Analysis we will elaborate on the Value vs Loss concept

Defining the ‘wrong customer’ might influence your decisions later on.

customers first

 Why put the custom first?

 All Pigs are equal…

 ‘All pigs are equal but some are more equal than others’.

…A famous phrase from George Orwell. 

So why, you may ask, am I always talking about ‘the customer’ when talking about value? Isn’t the supplier or the employee as important as the customer? When their needs are not fulfilled, how can we fulfill the needs of the customer?

That is all very true and indeed in the end the needs of the customer can only be fulfilled in an optimal way when this is in harmony with all stakeholders. As soon as óne involved party is paying the price for the benefit of another (ie the supplier is ‘squeezed’, child labor is applied, the environment is wasted) in the end this will turn against the organization and against the interest of the other parties.

However: This is only true when you take the long term systemic perspective. And that is what this book is about. It is a matter of vision, believe, value…

Money comes from one side only…

There is a simple yet important economic reason why the customer is always referenced first when talking about ‘value’.


From ALL stakeholders, the customer is the ONLY one that BRINGS money. All others come and GET money from the organization. So as soon as the customer stops bringing his money, all others will dry up sooner or later.

Remember, when talking about ‘the customer’ I mean the one who uses the outcome of your organization, so it may be as well ‘the citizen’, ‘the patient’ etc. And again we see the complications of this principle in some types of organizations where now at once a tension exists between the interests of the one that brings the money (and economically fuels the process) and the one who really uses and benefits the process.

© 1996-2021 Arno Koch. Please contact Arno Koch if you want to use content of this site!