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Abbott Research

The Power of Small Numbers: N=1 Insights

magnifying glassI’m a big believer in the power of insights. Insights come from stories, anecdotes, observations. You might later need to verify or deepen that ah-ha moment. You might decide to look for supporting big data. All good. But the individual incident is still important.

When I managed sales people way back in the last century, there was a great saying I learned: “If you see it once, it’s a pattern.” I believe this is true, mostly. People are creatures of habit. It is challenging for us to change our behavior “just once” – it’s much more likely that you have actually stumbled into a pattern worth investigating.

Which is why I thought it was very interesting to find out that Jeff Bezos at Amazon reads a certain number of customer e-mails sent directly to him, and that he makes specific enquiry about some of these. One result is that entire teams drop what they are doing to respond. That might seem a bit extreme, but it’s their way of keeping the focus on the customer experience.

So a company like Amazon listens to individual customer anecdotes. N=1. To keep focused on the customer.

It’s a question we could all ask ourselves – how do we keep the focus on the customer? How do we do it culturally, not just with processes, or slogans, but really constantly? How do we keep the focus on the customer?