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Yulia  Baburina

bravo!!! not everybody understand difference b/w employees, customer and people. but those who does win and lead... bravo!!!


Thank you Simon for your wonderful observation! Jim Carver


Professional services companies are at the most risk of loosing themselves and abandoning their needs and morals in favor of their clients. They especially need to do what is best for both parties rather than the client. Partnerships flow in all directions from an individual and family, friends, and coworkers should never take a backseat to a "paying" client, because those other people "pay" for someone to be a wise decision maker as well.


Very valid point you have made, and exemplified by your post/article on giving to others, and brought home by my encounter with two people taking orders at the drive through. The first asked me if I wanted a particular promoted selection. I said that I was looking through the menu board. Another voice came on and said, "Do you plan to order anything?" I might add that I sensed great frustration, or anger or something with the tone of voice. I said, "yes, I do, in just a moment....." I returned 'nasty" with kindness.....I actually knew which second person who had raised the question, as I frequent the drive through about once a week. I could have pulled out of line, I could have returned nasty.......When I got to the window, she saw me....I did inquire from the first voice as to whether the second voice was head management........
It boiled down to returning respect and kindness for a: 1. bad day? 2. bad hair day 3. something bad...... Who knows, I think respect and kind treatment was and is due each person, on both ends of the speaker, or in every day communication.


Thank you for starting this exciting discussion about the relative importance of employees and customers. In the end, I believe it is a dynamic tension between stakeholders.

The commonly unfortunate part is that employees are very likely to be ignored, hidden in the shadow of customers and owners. Owners ignore the need to manage customer experience buy putting the best possible input of employee participation.

Customer satisfaction is the "Why" but proper employee treatment is the "How" in my view. So, I stand with you; the how must be managed to achieve the why.


Nice post, I think those types of companies are strictly profit illustrated and that's the problem. Basically, they don't know why they exist.


Disagree. Customers lead definition of requirements, but other Stakeholder's requirements may supersede. See 1995 article: "Balancing Conflicting Stakeholder Requirements: The Customer is King Not" - http://goo.gl/jVDng - If customer's requirements mean employees work overtime (when they may not "want to") or the work goes to another supplier - then the needs of the Customer supersede - unless that Stakeholder known as The Government has laws prohibiting. Equality between Customers and Employees - is too simplistic a view of "all of the Stakeholders" and the reality of when push comes to shove in a competitive marketplace.

Jotham McCauley

I re-watch your 9/17/09 talk on the golden circle on youtube every few weeks. Finally now I am two days into my own business, and in planning it helped dramatically when I re-framed my outlook to answer the question Why. Our purpose is clear and we're pushing ahead full steam with distinct cause.


You couldn't be more wrong. Employees are a byproduct of Customers being held #1. If a business owner doesn't treat customers well they will never have employees. If you are fortunate enough to grow a business to have employees you will instill the customer is #1 into each and everyone of them or you will go under.period. I'm not saying employees should be treated poorly. They should always be treated with respect but customers come first. Business 101

monika hardy

spot on.

a people agenda.


While I agree with the concept in theory, it assumes that both customer and employee have the same needs.

It reminds me of Jerry Sanders...he had a slogan "People First, Products and Profits will follow!". Which is another way of stating the Golden Rule...Treat others as you would like to be treated. I think this applies in business as well to both customers and employees alike.

However, there is also a point to placing customers first in how you develop and manage your products. As a small app developer, there are a lot of things we could do, but those things may or may not add value to the product or our customers. Therefore, we need to look at our customers needs and put their needs first when choosing what we should be working on and what features to add to a product.

That does not mean we ignore or place a lower value on how internal employees should be managed. It's in our best interest to make sure employees are treated with respect and are empowered. I want everyone on my team to feel part of the solution and not only contributing to the success but also enjoying it as well.


Thank you, Simon, for raising this point.
The last decades we have indeed witnessed scores of companies going bust and organisations reduced to a criminal level of unproductivity by putting one of their stakeholders first.

Books like "Enough" and "Obliquity" provide dozens of examples of the proven fact that an obsession with shareholder value invariably leads to destruction. Around the world, hundreds of thousands of small enterprises are going belly up because they create too much customer value (value FOR the customer) without getting enough customer value (value OF the customer) in return. And thousands of (semi-)govenment institutions come to a grinding halt because they focus on employee advantages only. Just to list a few examples.

And, of course, GBlake, the missions and expectations of all these stakeholders compete with each other.

But why was it that John Nash received the Nobel Prize for Economics? For his equilibrium which he formulated in the fifties: a game can only be successful when all participants do what is right for themselves AND what is right for the other participants. A correction on Adam Smith's Invisible Hand that most of today's entrepreneurs and managers seem to have missed out on.
I therefore suggest a slight improvement to the title of this blogpost: Don't trust companies who put ANY of their stakeholders first.
Oh, and BTW: WHY does an organisation do what is does? Because it is sustained by stakeholders who expect some value in return. All stakeholders. And a just piece of the cake.


I love this! I view my small business like a family: if the family is dysfunctional, customers will shy away.


I totally agree with this, but for an additional reason: A company has to stay true to what it believes. In order to deliver the best possible product / service / experience to the customer, you need to first remain steadfast to the ideals and ideas of the company and its vision. The notion that the customer is always right is a long-perpetuated falsehood. The customer pays the company to be right.

Put the vision first and the customer will benefit. This is how te innovation happens. Pandering to customer's wishes is the antithesis of this in most cases.


What about with regard to professional services companies? I can see this holding true for consumer products companies, but in the case of large professional services organizations the client mission often IS the mission. When looking at professional services, as opposed to products (B2B or B2C) there are competing interests: client's mission vs. company's mission.

I think in this instance the client's mission (the customer) is paramount, both for the employees of the professional services company and its employees.

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