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Does fear of failure mean we’re not listening to customers?

Some may call it arrogance; the ‘my way or the highway’ syndrome, others may see it as a passionate defence of a point of view. If you’re on the receiving end of this resistance you may see it as defensive or rude even? You may even find resistance to change at times frustrating and demotivating.

But how much of this resistance is rooted in the fear of failure? We pondered this at the following a UX conference last month in Manchester, primarily because one of the key take-outs from the day was driven by the speakers’ consistent use of the word ‘agile’.

Agile in the context of UX (User Experience) methodology refers to the way in which digital projects are delivered; a sprint-based, concentric and consistent method of delivery as opposed to a linear one. Which makes perfect sense to us as ‘strategic/creative’ thinkers and planners who champion the customer and see the value in subtly structured, freethinking collaboration; essentially a customer-centric, design-intuitive, fast-paced development cycle, which in a nutshell gets stuff done.

Agile doesn’t mean skimming over stuff. Far from it. It means focusing on a particular issue and resolving it in a customer-centric, efficient way. So why aren’t more of us embracing it? And importantly why aren’t we embracing agility beyond the realms of digital?

Because we fear what we don’t know that makes us more reluctant to adopt new approaches to our business challenges and opportunities. It may also make us more reluctant to really listen to customers and take on board their needs and motivations.

But turn that fear on its head however and becoming an agile brand starts to become a very relevant, practical and effective approach indeed.

In a digitally driven world of ‘customer in charge’, to be truly customer-focused, you have to be brand-led and to be brand-led you have to be agile. In fact you have to put user-experience, customer motivation and behaviour at the heart of everything you do and say inside and outside the business.

This doesn't mean you have to be reckless and cavalier. It means you have to listen to people inside and outside the business, involving them regularly and implementing what you learn through a continuous cycle of 'design, test, measure.' Equally importantly, agility fuels culture change in organisations.

Here at Clock we like to think of ourseleves as entrepreneurs but we're realists too and we appreciate there's a way to go until brand owners are shaping their business growth in this way. But agility is something we'd encourage everyone to embrace; not least because it mitigates the fear of the unknown by ensuring that you focus on implementing change by listening to what your customers want, rather than what you think they need.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."