Who do you want your customers to become?

According to MIT innovation expert and thought leader Michael Schrage, if you aren’t asking this question, your strategic marketing and innovation efforts will fail.

In this latest HBR Single, Schrage provides a powerful new lens for getting more value out of innovation investment. He argues that asking customers to do something different doesn’t go far enough—serious marketers and innovators must ask them to become something different instead. Even more, you must invest in their capabilities and competencies to help them become better customers.

Schrage’s primary insight is that innovation is an investment in your client, not just a transaction with them. To truly innovate today, designing new products or features or services won’t get you there. Only by designing new customers—thinking of their future state, being the conduit to their evolution—will you transform your business.

Schrage explains how the above question (what he calls “The Ask”) will incite you and your team to imagine and design ideal customer outcomes as the way to drive your business’s future. The Single is organized around six key insights and includes practical exercises to help you apply the question to your current situation. Schrage also includes examples from well-known companies—Google, Facebook, Disney, Starbucks, Apple, IKEA, Dyson, Ryanair, and others—to illustrate just what is possible when you apply “The Ask.”

Marketing executives, brand managers, strategic innovators, and entrepreneurs alike should understand how successful innovation rebrands the client and not the product. A requisite question for its time, Who Do You Want Your Customers To Become will liberate you and your team from ‘innovation myopia’—and turn your innovation efforts on their head.

He argues that asking customers to do something different doesn’t go far enough—serious marketers and innovators must ask them to become something different instead. Even more, you must invest in their capabilities and competencies to help them become better customers.

As we say here at BPM Towers – If you can figure what the right thing to do is you will innovate to do it!

A good read for gaining even more Customer Insight.


Lord Nelson and Successful Customer Outcomes (SCO)

Horatio Nelson is one of the greatest heros in British history, an honor he earned by defeating Napoleon’s fleet in the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. Horatio_Nelson.jpgHis victory at sea over the French fleet ultimately proved to be the start of the end of the Napoleon era, which finished with another famous battle at Waterloo in 1815.

So what has Lord Nelson got to do with SCO’s? To answer that question we need to understand how an  out gunned, out manned and apparently demoralized British fleet could turn the tide of war.

Battles at sea had until Nelsons leadership been conducted by Admirals and Commanders often ashore dispensing orders as if playing a game of chess. Move from here to there and engage that ship. The signals from the command were conveyed by flag wavers, strategically placed across the battle front to provide a visual instruction to ships captains.
Sea battles tended to be well planned and predictable affairs with naturally the fleet with greater resources usually victorious. And so it seemed would be the case as the two largest sea going battle fleets in the world approached a pivotal conflict.

Nelson who was more than familiar with hardship both physical from earlier war wounds  (blind in one eye with a crippled arm) and the burdensome politics of the Admiralty brought his captains together to review the battle plans…. Clearly understanding the dilemma he articulated an approach “sink the French fleet at all costs” which in retrospect seems a statement of the blindingly obvious, however tactics and strategy was the domain of the Admirals, not the captains who simply acted out orders provided by flag wavers. Asking the captains what would that involve brought forward the idea of individual ships acting ‘in the moment’ to take advantage of the slower moving, albeit more powerful French ships. If the British ships could ‘get alongside’, rather than waiting for extended orders there was a chance for victory.

And so it was that the flag wavers remained ashore and the captains, seeking to align everything they did to achieve the successful outcome “sink the French fleet” acted in unison and yet with discretion to strike boldly. The rules of the game where changed forever when the British fleet attacked the French in the dead of night. The incredulous French were taken unawares as sea battles traditionally stopped for the night because no one could see the flags….

We can encapsulate Nelsons commitment as just before the battle of Trafalgar Nelson sent a famous signal to his fleet: “England expects every man will do his duty and sink the French fleet“… Nelson’s own last words were “Thank God I have done my duty”… Because of the distance from Trafalgar to England, Nelson’s body was placed in a cask of brandy to preserve it for the trip.
So there we have it. A clear articulation of the successful outcome (think outside of the box). An understanding and actioned desire to make that happen through the technology, people and processes.

It literally changes the rules of the game – forever.

So how much flag waving goes on in your organization? Have you truly articulated the SCO and is everyone and everything aligned to achieving it?

About the Author

Steve Towers, Co-founder and Chair of BP Group (www.bpgroup.org), is an expert on process and performance transformation. Steve founded the first community focused on business process management in 1992.

Steve has bases in Europe (UK), and Colorado.

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Thank you once again for the truly Copernican learning experience that we had in June.  Outside In is immensely appropriate here and so far our executives like the message.
Ernst Hertzog
, Business Process Engineer | Operations, MEDICLINIC SOUTH AFRICA


New Zealand CPP Champions

Sevem more BP Group Certified Process Professionals graduated this week in Auckland, New Zealand. Congratulations to one and all!

See the upcoming CPP Master & Champions sessions in Dubai, London, Orlando and Denver at http://www.bpgroup.org/cpp-mastersreg-championsreg.html

And the winners of the ipad3’s are…

Through July and August 309 people qualified as BP Group Certified Process Professionals®. All successful participants have been entered into a draw for an iPad3 to celibrate the BP Groups 20th Anniversary (www.bpgroup.org)… and below are the results from the draw that took place in London on October 1st.

From October through December 31st all events will feature the same thing – one iPad3 per class so if you would like to join the fun and along the way to becoming professionally qualified stand a chance of winning and iPad 3 review the upcoming sessions: http://www.bpgroup.org/certification-by-city.html

Meanwhile here are the highlights of the draw. 

Winners are notified via email and have one month to claim their prize, otherwise the outstaning iPads will go forward into the Oct-Nov-Dec draw (to be drawn at PEX 2013 in January in Florida)

A list of the winners will be published in the BP Groups Certified Process Professional® subgroup on Tuesday 2nd October 2012.

Winners from 11 sessions held August-September 2012
309 in the draw held at BP Groups office in London 1st October 2012

Winning companies include:
Batelco, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Real People, Dubai Trade, Koru Services Group, Propentus, Standard Chartered Bank, Astra Zeneca, Sodexo, Philips,

Winning countries: Bahrain, UAE, China, UK, Finland, Singapore, Australia, South Africa, India

10 winners of an iPad3 for the BP Group 20th birthday

Participants at the BP Groups August and September Certified Process Professional® programmes will join the draw on Monday 1st October (noon at our London offices) for ten iPad 3’s.

One per class from classes in Helsinki, London, Johannesburg, New Delhi, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, Singapore Shangai and Bangalore. The results will be published here next week.

If you would like to join the growing ranks of BP Group Certified Process Professionals® you can review the next 22 sessions across Asia, Africa, USA, Europe and Australia from http://www.bpgroup.org/certification-by-city.html