Curriculum: The Customer
Nine Organizational Perspectives courses form the heart of the Yale SOM integrated core curriculum. Each course approaches managerial problems from the viewpoint of a key internal or external organizational role, rather than a single academic discipline. SOM students learn that solutions require a broad view of the issues and an ability to synthesize competing points of view to come up with the most effective ways to lead organizations.
The intention of the Customer Course is to study how an executive can build a truly customer-focused and market-driven organization that reacts swiftly to any situation. During the first part of the course, students learn how to understand customers and create a strong value proposition for their enterprise. This is accomplished through in-depth market analysis and a breakdown of market-feedback and control metrics. Students also learn how to integrate the resulting data into decision making and strategy. The second part of the course looks at how to create — and maintain — an organization aligned with the shifting needs of the customer.
According to K. Sudhir, James L. Frank Professor of Private Enterprise and Management and professor of marketing, successfully creating and maintaining customer focus requires that all aspects of the organization be aligned around that goal.
For the final week of the Customer, students studied the case of TIAA-CREF. For decades, the company had dominated the market for retirement services for educational and medical institutions. But competition began to seriously erode the company’s market share. In 2002, when Herb Allison came aboard as CEO, he had to decide how to turn TIAA-CREF around.
Students were asked to come up with recommendations for what on one level was a marketing problem, but in reality involved nearly every division of the company.