Is your organization one of the 3 archetypes of unbalanced customer-centricity?

July 12, 2022

Related dimensions:

An organization can only become fully customer-centered when they are able to (1) capture, (2) spread, and (3) act on customer information. However, we frequently see organizations perform 1 or 2 activities well, and fall short on the rest. 

This creates 3 distinct archetypes of unbalanced organizations from a customer-centricity perspective.

1. The fragmented

This is an organization that is able to capture and act on customer information, yet due to the lack of dissemination they do so in an ineffective and fragmented manner. The Fragmented tend to also have complex specialized organizational structures that make it difficult to share information across teams, departments, and silos. 

This has several consequences:

  • Customers are approached (and overwhelmed) by different teams and departments to talk about their needs
  • Projects tend to overlap and are often duplicated throughout the organization
  • Insights from customer-facing projects are only leveraged locally, therefore the impact is reduced
  • When people leave the organization the gathered knowledge is lost
  • Insights are not aggregated and shared to the benefit of the organization

2. The Speculator

The Speculator is an organization that is great at spreading “information” and acting on it. The caveat is that their information are usually assumptions or strongly-held beliefs, as opposed to hard data which they have gathered from their customers. Speculators tend to launch initiatives, products, or services based on what they think the customer or market wants.

The challenges faced by the Speculator:

  • High failure rates for new customer-facing innovation projects
  • An internally-focused corporate culture that is less tolerant of outside information
  • Incoming information will tend to be filtered based on internal assumptions
  • Assumptions will gradually turn into truth
  • They tend to be reactive in terms of market evolutions

3. The Impotent

The third type of organization is able to capture and spread information, but is unable or unwilling to do anything with it. Kodak is an often quoted example of a company that knew digital photography was coming and decided to ignore it. Vince Barabba, Kodak’s Head of Market Intelligence, explained in a Forbes article how a study indicated that: digital photography had the potential capability to make Kodak’s business obsolete and that Kodak had roughly ten years to prepare for the transition. Management decided to ignore this information.

The Impotent struggle with:

  • Employee frustration, apathy, and churn as people gather intelligence but their insights are not heard or taken seriously
  • Wasted efforts of having processes and resources dedicated to gathering intelligence but choosing not to do anything with it

Kodak Source: Forbes - How Kodak Failed (

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