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A Section from "The Continuous Improvement Development Guide"

Volume 3: Starting the Journey >

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Know Your Customers and What They Value (Principle)

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The work you do only matters if it is something that is valued by the customer. Granted, there are many non-value added tasks that support giving the customer what they want, but it is important to recognize that those activities are secondary to the things that customers are willing to pay for.

Some companies often get exceptionally good at doing the wrong thing. The obvious prerequisite to providing value is that you have to know your customers. Before you proceed too far on your journey, it is important to know exactly what your customers value.

Remember, at its heart, Lean is about providing value efficiently, not just reducing waste. That implies that you have a deep understanding of what your customers actually want. Far too often, processes hinge on misconceptions about customer needs. If you can’t zero in on what your customers will actually pay for, and provide that value at a low cost to you (regardless of what you charge), you put yourself at a disadvantage in your market.

The key here is to create a process to discover and monitor what your customers really want. No assumptions. No relying on history.


CI Transformation Principles are the guiding rules that apply to all companies that are trying to make changes. They are similar to natural laws. Learn more about how principles guide your Lean journey in our entry on ‘Principles and Values.’


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