Htm6413 A

Sublime Leadership
"Who is our Customer?"
J. Brian McNaughton, 33°
Program Management

Peter F. Drucker is considered to be the father of modern management theory and his influences can still be found in corporate America. A prolific author, Drucker is perhaps best known for The Practice of Management (1954) which helped establish management as a professional discipline and introduced the concept of Management By Objectives (MBO). Later in life, Drucker shifted his focus to the social sector and its impact on society.

In the 2008 book by Peter F. Drucker, with other notable management authors, we are posed with The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization.

  • What is our mission?
  • Who is our customer?
  • What does the customer value?
  • What are our results?
  • What is our plan?

In our webinars and newsletters this year we have primarily focused upon the Scottish Rite Experience and “caring” for our members. To examine the nature of our customers more deeply, we will explore Drucker’s second question, “Who is our customer?”, wherein two customer classifications are identified: Primary and Supporting. Primary customers, he describes, are those whose lives are changed through our organizational work. Supporting customers could be volunteers, employees, family, and others that we need to satisfy. Both types of customers have the ability to say no.

As we endeavor to know our customers, we must be keenly aware that their needs and wants are constantly evolving. Drucker notes that the customer is always one step ahead of you and so you must know your customer or quickly get to know them. Challenges begin to arise for an organization when there are customers that are interested in the product or service but not in the way it is delivered.

Home delivery services for milk and other dairy products were prominent in the United States for over one hundred years. “Milkman” now ranks on the list of jobs that no longer exist. Why? Customer demand for the product remained but not the mechanism of delivery. By the 1970s larger grocery stores began to pop up and scientific innovation had significantly extended the shelf life of milk. This made it easier for stores to stock dairy products which made them more convenient and cost-effective to purchase.

As we endeavor to identify and know our primary and secondary customers, we must continuously seek to understand their needs and wants. We may have a product that is both wanted and needed, but is the method of its delivery meeting the needs of our customers? Philip Kotler added to Drucker’s reflections with a poignant reminder that “Our business is not to casually please everyone, but to deeply please our target customers.”

Our membership has evolved. Like the dairy industry, will we continue to innovate and find new ways to deliver our products?