Customer Stewardship

Taking the Long View

Is your organisation earning the right to govern itself with less regulation?

Customer stewardship is neither easy nor trivial to do, but significant benefits are there for those with the long view of their organisation.  The famous Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu insightfully reflected ‘Do the difficult things while they are easy and do great things while they are small’ is a powerful call to action for all infrastructure practitioners to embrace the principles and practices of customer stewardship.

Garry Bowditch reflected that for over two decades of his career in infrastructure, he continues to be inspired by so many in the industry that share a passion for making a difference; that is ensuring the transformative power of infrastructure in lifting the quality of economic and social life.

This is an excellent starting point for customer stewardship, but too often the incredible endeavours to make the infrastructure customer centred and great for the long term go unrecognised, and sometimes even misunderstood.

But it is the principles and practices of the infrastructure professional that have the potential to make deep changes in the governance of major businesses and government policies that shape our industry for the better. However, institutional and regulatory setting are not always right for this to happen, and that is why customer stewardship is important, because it has the power to shift organisations and their practices.

Customer Stewardship is concerned with creating the ways and means in an organisation to better govern itself with less regulation and more accountability to the customer and stakeholders. There is a compelling case for stronger sense of ownership and responsibility for outcomes at every level of management and operational activities.

As Peter Block (1993) remarked about what is stewardship. ‘It is a buck that stops everywhere (see side bar), and there is an onus of responsibility for every owner and operator to carve out an environment where they earn the right to self govern with less regulation and government oversight when its demonstrated that trust, confidence and an accountability to delivering long term outcomes are not only apparent but evidenced by their track record.

What is Stewardship?

“It is a buck that stops everywhere. It means having more of a partnership with customers and creating self-reliance on the part of all who are touched by the institution. It says that the answer to economic problems is not reduced costs or better funding; it is to focus on relationships, reciprocity, and participation first.”  

Peter Block (1993) Choosing service over self-interest