What the Hell Is Market Oriented

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It’s far more than the cliché “getting close to the customer” What the Hell Is ‘Market Oriented'? by Benson P Shapiro The air hung heavy in French Lick, Indiana. A tornado watch was in effect that morning, and the sky was black. In a meeting room in one of the local resort hotels, where top management of the Wolverine Controller Company had gathered, the atmosphere matched the weather. Recent results had been poor for the Indianapolis- based producer of flow controllers for process industries like chemicals, paper, and food. Sales were off, but earnings were off even more. Market share was down in all product lines. As the president called the meeting to order he had fire in his eyes. "The situation can't get much more serious," he…show more content…
"You all put in a lot of time talk ing past each other and defending your own turf. Some of that's all right. You're supposed to represent your own departments and sell your own perspectives. If you didn’t work hard for your own organiza tions, you wouldn't have lasted long at Wolverine, and you couldn't have made the contributions that you have. "But enough is enough! You aren't Just representatives of your own shops. You're the corporate executives at Wolverine and you have to take a more integrated, global view. It's my job to get all of you co-ordinated, but it's also the job of each of you. I don't have the knowledge, and nothing can replace direct, lateral communication across departments. Let's figure out how to do that after we get some lunch." Leaving the Wolverine bunch to its meal, I want to make a start in dispelling the president's uncertainty. After years of research, I'm convinced that the term ”market oriented" represents a set of processes touching on all aspects of the company. It's a great deal more than the cliché “getting close to the cus tomer." Since most companies sell to a variety of cus tomers with varying and even conflicting desires and needs, the goal of getting close to the customer is meaningless. I’ve also found no meaningful difference between "market driven "and "customer oriented," so I use the phrases interchangeably. In my view, three characteristics make a company market driven.
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