Picture your next major strategy meeting: heads of different teams are all gathered around the conference table to make crucial decisions about the direction of the company. Tensions are running high and budgets are on the line, so everyone is eager to dominate the conversation. But the one person who's not there might be the most important. No, not the CEO: the customer. At Amazon, CEO Jeff Bezos has countered this by instituting the practice of leaving an empty chair at meetings. He then designates the seat as a representation of their customer, who will ultimately decide the success or failure of the brand. The tactic has clearly paid off, as Amazon has achieved some of the highest customer satisfaction rankings for several years running.
Takeaway: When making decisions, it’s easy to get stuck on personal aesthetics or turf battles. A physical reminder of the real customer can help keep discussions focused on their needs and priorities.