Culture & Customer Development

Culture doesn't come later. That's what NOBL argues in this essay.

Yes, you’re building a product, but you’re actually foremost building a group of people that can work together to produce a product. You can’t afford to ignore the most fundamental thing to your business: your people and their relationships.

Culture doesn't come later because at the end of the day, any organization is simply a bunch of people working together. There are desks, machines, tools, computers, processes, paperwork, titles, etc. but it's just a bunch of people figuring things out together. So if you haven't discussed or explicitly worked on your internal culture -- it's not that there's non, it's that there's already one and you don't know it. And from my readings, it seems that cultures are hard to revert.

The text hits home when it talks about customers. I spent most of days working with entrepreneurs and marketing managers. As an entrepreneur and a marketer myself, I try to spend as much time in the real world - wherever that is - where rubber hits the road. But it's hard. And we get trapped thinking inside our little bubble. We forget to talk with and take feedback of people who actually pay us to do work. Hint: you VP is not your customer, even if she/he might responsible for your next promotion.

It amazes me that people who are creating new services, building new products, brainstorming about new things to market, etc. spend so little time hanging out with their customers and talking to them. Honestly talking with them. Or just listening if you're really shy.

In bigger organizations (or organizations where you're not interacting with your client all day), it goes back to the culture that is in place. So here's the hard question and a few answers from NOBL's essay:

How can you grow toward your customer, not your ego or a bureaucracy?
  1. You can give them a literal seat at the table.
  2. You can recreate their experience for your employees.
  3. You can obsess over the customer experience like Pixar obsesses over their stories.
  4. You can hold your employees to actually interacting with your customers.

Source: Culture Doesn't Come Later