WHO are you building for?

How do you sell a house? You paint the walls white and put all your furniture in storage. You remove impediments to decisions for the potential home buyer. You make the house a canvas for them to paint their own picture.

How do you build any kind of business? You paint the walls white and remove all the furniture.

The arc of product features or service offerings typically bends ever so slightly over time towards convenience for the company, not the customer. This happens so gradually and goes unnoticed even to the most watchful eye. Until one day the products and processes that have been built inconvenience the customer but make life easy for the company.

Back before debit cards and bank machines, banks were closed on weekends. If you didn’t get cash out on Friday (before they closed at 3pm!), you simply had no money. The business of banking was (and is) never about the customer, it was about their needs with your money.

Grocery stores rebuilt their checkout process to make their customers do all the work with self-checkout. Who wants to scan and bag their own groceries? The grocery companies do so they can save on labour costs.

At my current company, we limited our delivery windows so they fit our operating day instead of building convenience for our customer’s day. It seemed like the right decision for us but was clearly not right for our customers.

These small, innocuous decisions with the wrong lens take companies off track from the reason they were created.

Remember who you are building for.