The desired outcome of competency #4 is a focused solution strategy which is the product of innovative thinking from all departments, squarely focused on delivering desired outcomes, solving problems and providing a set of positive experiences when dealing with your company. Once the group of intended customers is profiled and the high priority, unmet needs discovered, a plan must be developed with which to capitalize on these opportunities profitably. To accomplish this, the information must be shared across the entire company so each department can begin to contribute to the overall solution. By having a rich and consistent understanding of the problem to be solved, diverse groups can bring their unique perspective and skills while still being focused on a common purpose and a shared strategy. In order to reinforce the desired behaviors, goals, priorities and resources must support the market-centered planning activities. To maintain momentum and ensure consistency, responsibility has to be assigned to one or several people to represent the intended customers’ perspective internally and monitor external changes. A senior member of the organization must take responsibility to continuously reinforce this market-driven initiative and ensure consistency across all its elements. This is not limited to one or a few departments. Nor is it a single tactic that is executed and everyone goes back to business as usual. Every function, including manufacturing and accounting thinks about how they can contribute to offering a set of products and services that will create a repeat and loyal customer. !!Fundamental Questions * Who in your company consistently represents the intended customer’s perspective? * Are they consistently monitoring and reporting on successes, failures and changes that the company should respond to in the chosen market? * Does your company have a systematic — and verifiable — way to share information about intended customers and their needs so everyone is working toward a common purpose? * Who in the organization makes sure information is being shared effectively and all the company’s products, services and programs are consistent in focus and support each other? !!Starting Points * Assign responsibility to someone (e.g. industry manager, product manager) to regularly research, and update the rest of the company on trends and changes in the selected market. * Appoint or assign the responsibility for the “whole product” to a senior marketing person. * Have a senior manager review the highest priority, unmet needs and evaluate if the product development plans, the marketing communication messages and the sales training all address those needs as the highest priority? Or has a disconnect occurred somewhere in the process?