Last week I spent some time with a Australian government department in Canberra. Part of our discussion focused on how they define value. Interestingly, one of the biggest challenges for them was figuring out who their customer was.

What really resonated for them was the KANO model (Developed in the 1980’s by Japan’s professor Noriaki Kano, as a way of categorising customer requirements). It was a bit of an eye-opener for them to make distinctions between what is a basic versus performance requirements. Basic requirements for a customer are the must haves. The things that if missing, will create dissatisfaction. Performance requirements are specified wants, that create satisfaction, but in reality they could do without.

Through our discussion we discovered that one of their processes was delivering lots of the wants (the performance requirements). Of course there is nothing wrong with this, but when the needs (the basic requirements) of the customer are missed out or not quite what the customer is looking for, there is an issue. They were spending lots of time delivering customer wants, but not the needs.

Figuring this out helped them to shift the focus of the process back to the customer needs. They could get to the customer wants later.

How about you? Is this happening in your organisation? Are you spending time thinking about the customer wants, and in doing so can lose focus on what the process really should be delivering!