The daily drucker: february 27 - defining business purpose and mission

What is our business?
Nothing may seem simpler or more obvious than to know what a company's business is.  A steel mill makes steel; a railroad runs trains to carry freight and passengers; an insurance company underwrites fire risks; a bank lends money.  Actually, "What is our business?" is always a difficult question and the right answer is usually anything but obvious.
A business is not defined by the company's name, statutes, or articles of incorporation.  It is defined by the want the customer satisfies when she buys a product or service.  To satisfy the customer is the mission and purpose of every business.  The question "What is our business?" can, therefore, be answered only by looking at the business from the outside, from the point of view of the customer and the market.  What the customer sees, thinks, believes, and wants, at any given time, must be accepted by management as an objective fact and must be taken as a seriously as the reports of the salesperson, the tests of the engineer, or the figures of the accountant.  And management must make a conscious effort to get the answers from the customer herself rather than attempt to read her mind.
ACTION POINT: Talk to one customer every day of this week.  Ask them how they see your company, what they think of it, what kind of company they believe it is and what they want from it.  Use this feedback to better define your company's mission.
Quoted from The Daily Drucker, page 63


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