Customer centricity – one is almost ashamed to use one of these buzz words utilised within organisations during the last couple of decades. And yet – administrative authorities mutate to customer centres, the time has passed where German Telecom, after many weeks of delay, installs a single grey telephone after the applicant has handed in long forms, and at a car dealership one is served like in an espresso bar – we have gotten used to it, though it has not been around for long.
Customer orientation, though, is just one form of external orientation of decisions. In the guiding process decision orientation, market segments, infrastructure conditions, legal dictates, tax advantages, production advantages, amongst others, are all phenomena which organisations (can) direct themselves by. As trivial as this seems, the conflict potential which lies buried in this guiding process can easily be underestimated. The assessments about the influence and meaning of external environments upon the success of the organisation often diverge considerably. The consequences for the processes, structure and competence requirements are enormous (suddenly the master mechanic must be able to deal with complaint management at the counter and he no longer replaces cylinder head seals, employees must suddenly make telephone calls in English and the book-keeping is carried out in Eastern Europe). Decisions about the relevance of the external environment usually have a serious impact and accordingly, they are controversial. However, because they are so powerful, they are also a favoured area for interventions by managers and consultants