What The Hell Is Market Oriented

4227 words - 17 pages

It’s far more than the cliché “getting close to the customer”

What the Hell Is ‘Market Oriented'?
by Benson P Shapiro The air hung heavy in French Lick, Indiana. A tornado watch was in effect that morning, and the sky was black. In a meeting room in one of the local resort hotels, where top management of the Wolverine Controller Company had gathered, the atmosphere matched the weather. Recent results had been poor for the Indianapolis- based producer of flow controllers for process industries like chemicals, paper, and food. Sales were off, but earnings were off even more. Market share was down in all product lines. As the president called the meeting to order he had fire in his eyes. ...view middle of the document...

Currently he is researching the relationships among the Management of a company's product line, the selection and nurturing of its most strategic accounts, and how its functional departments and divisions can work together to support these accounts.

There followed a lively, often acrimonious discus sion of what was wrong and what was needed. Each vice president defended his or her function or unit and set out solutions from that particular stand point. I will draw a curtain over their heedless and profane bickering, but here are paraphrases of their positions: Sales VP: "We need more salespeople. We're the ones who are close to the customers. We have to have more call capacity in the sales force so we can provide better service and get new product ideas into the company faster" Manufacturing VP: "We all know that our customers want quality. We need more automated machinery so we can work to closer tolerances and give them better quality. Also, we ought to send our whole manufacturing team to Crosby's Quality College." Research and development VP: "Clearly we could do much better at both making and selling our products. But the fundamental problem is a lack of new products. They're the heart of our business. Our technology is getting old because we aren't investing enough in R&D." Finance VP: 'The problem isn't not enough resources, it's too many resources misspent. We’ve got too much overhead. Our variable costs are out of control. Our marketing and sates expenses are unreasonable. And we spend too much on R&D. We don't need more, we need less." The general manager of the Electronic Flow Controls Division: "We aren't organized in the right way-that's the fundamental problem. If each divi sion had its own sales force, we would have better co-ordination between sales and the other functions." Her counterpart in the Pneumatic Controls Divi sion: "We don’t need our own sales forces anywhere near as much as we need our own engineering group so we can develop designs tailored to our customers. As long as we have a central R&D group that owns all the engineers, the divisions can't do their jobs” As the group adjourned for lunch, the president interjected a last word. "You all put in a lot of time talk ing past each other and defending your own turf. Some of that's all right. You're supposed to represent your own departments and sell your own perspectives. If you didn’t work hard for your own organiza tions, you wouldn't have lasted long at Wolverine, and you couldn't have made the contributions that you have. "But enough is enough! You aren't Just representatives of your own shops. You're the corporate executives at Wolverine and you have to take a more

integrated, global view. It's my job to get all of you co-ordinated, but it's also the job of each of you. I don't have the knowledge, and nothing can replace direct, lateral communication across departments. Let's figure out how to do that after we get some lunch." Leaving the Wolverine bunch...

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