Customer-Centric Thinking at NetApp

I have been reading Dave Hitz’s book, “How To Castrate A Bull“, on the ups, downs, and ups of the company he founded, NetApp.  During his story, Dave provides great rational for the need of customer-centric thinking when developing new products.

In the early days of the company, his team was developing products for small departments and had a great understanding of the customers.  However, as the company grew and they started building solutions for large enterprises and government institutions, they realized they needed to include a new type of customer thinking.  Dave explains:

…..At a start-up serving customers like your-self, you unconsciously do the right thing; to mature that start-up  into a large company serving other large companies, you must learn to consciously study and understand their special needs….

….If you are missing customer-centric thinking, you get an elegant design that works great and ships on time, except customers don’t care very much about the problem it solves.  They might admire it as a technical achievement, but they won’t buy it.

Great advice from Dave.  As you start to expand your product offerings, you must recognize the changing needs of the new customers you are trying to win.

BTW, Dave chose a very interesting title for his book alluding to fact if handled properly, risk can be managed and profitible.  He also does include instructions if you do have a bull that needs tending….