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10.09.20 10:31 AM Comment(s) By Donna

Listen to your Customer

Internationally, we have recently been involved in a radically changing environment and the effect has disconnected people and business by preventing people to work together and forced a ‘giant rethink’ in business strategies.


When faced with uncertainty, we need to get to grips with the heart of business and ask the question, ‘how can we add value to the business and persuade customers at the end of the value chain to make that purchase.’


Jan’s simple answer is that we need to focus and listen to the customer again.


Jan is an avid advocate for the LEAN business methodology where the entire organization works together to understand customer requirements through value added activities.


But how do we do just that without overcomplicating things?

- Simplicity of LEAN thinking

- Uncertainty of COVID times

- Whose voice do I listen to?

- How do we maximise value?

- How do we minimize waste?


Value Adding Activities 

1. What the customer wants and is willing to buy

2. Transforming of materials and information

3. Done right the first time


Necessary Non- Value Adding Activities

1. Consuming resources which don’t directly contribute to the product/service

2. Currently required (includes legal and risk management or regulatory requirements)


Non-Value adding Activities

1. Consuming resources which don’t directly contribute to the product/service

2. Could be eliminated without deterioration of the product/service functionality




“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all”

 Peter Drucker



There are 8 forms of Non-Value adding activities or waste:

1. Overproduction – producing more than the customer needs

2. Waiting – waiting for a process or equipment

3. Motion – this is extra physical/mental motion of people which adds no value

4. Transportation – moving from 1 place to another

5. Inventory – building and storing extra/ unnecessary service or product

6. Defects – Processing

7. Over processing – Adding extra values when not needed

8. Intellect – Not using employees’ full intellectual contribution



Jan suggests that we ‘remove the cage around the ability to perceive the flow value and the blockages from non-value adding activities.

Instead of jumping to conclusions because of our experience and history, we need to consciously listen to the customer with ‘eyes wide open’ looking for the blockages and finding new solutions.


“We must always keep in mind that the greatest waste is the waste we don’t see.”

 Shigeo Shingo


Required skills:

- Enabling

- Involving

- Encouraging


By incorporating these skills your business will:

- Get closer to the customer

- Improve service delivery

- Innovate continuously

- Increase productivity

- Gain the competitive edge




Once we have recognized what it is that the customer wants, we need to ensure that we are sustaining a standard that is staying the same or we are recognizing the fact that the customer is changing.

It is vital that we provide an environment where everyone understands WHAT the new best practice is.


“In South Africa, the enemy is imports as it takes away local jobs. It is up to us to drive out the waste and leave pure value so we as a country can remain competitive.”

 Jan Visagie

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