Customer Focus?


Here's some not-so-interesting news that I believe indicates not being focused on the customer and the subsequent focus on waste elimination. Harley-Davidson is changing their ticker symbol on Wall Street from HDI to HOG. Read the press release here.

How is this an improvement, really? Were people trying to buy Harley stock, but couldn't guess the ticker symbol? Will the listing on the stock section of the newspaper double as an ad that sells more motorcycles? Will stockholders pay more for their stock, or riders more for their bikes?

Let's look at it from the waste standpoint. Think of all the systems, websites, individual portfolios, news feeds and so on built around the ticker symbol HDI. All of that has to change. Information will be lost. Delays and confusion will occur. People manually must change systems. Waste, waste, waste. Not a value-added task in there.

I get worried when companies seem to have more time to spend on their ticker symbol and annual reports than they do on the customer and producing great product with the least amount of waste. This isn't the only example, by any stretch of the imagination. What's your favorite example?

Please check out my main blog page at

The RSS feed content you are reading is copyrighted by the author, Mark Graban.

, , , on the author's copyright.

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

Did you like this post? Make sure you don't miss a post or podcast — Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.

Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

Get New Posts Sent To You

Select list(s):
Previous articleSome Honesty in Pricing for Once
Next articleOnshoring
Jamie Flinchbaugh
Jamie Flinchbaugh is an accomplished Entrepreneur, Senior Executive, and Board Member with more than 20 years of success spanning finance, manufacturing, automotive, and management consulting. Leveraging extensive operational experience, Jamie is an invaluable asset for a company seeking expert guidance with process improvements, lean strategies, and leadership coaching in order to transform operations, reduce costs, and drive profitability. His areas of expertise include continuous improvement, entrepreneurship, coaching and training, process transformation, business strategy, and organizational design.


  1. I don’t think it’s necessarily an example of losing focus on the customer. I can agree that the ticker change, while being “cute”, will add cost and waste and doesn’t add any real value. The stock market should add any value to the company based on having a cute or memorable ticker symbol, assuming a rational market.

    I think a company CAN have irrelevant side functions (such as things that marketing or investor relations might do), while still focusing on the customer, I don’t think it’s an “either/or” type of thing. I guess maybe you’re arguing, Jamie, that the executives only have a certain amount of time and brain cycles per day, so they shouldn’t spend any of them on irrelevant crap like the ticker symbol?

  2. The article starts:

    “A stock ticker symbol or company name that is easy to pronounce may be a significant factor in short-term increases in stock price, according to a report published online yesterday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Two researchers created a list of fictional stocks and then…”

  3. Yes, no one was having trouble being familiar with Harley or having trouble saying the name.

    Yes, anonymous, you can do both. But if it generates cost even in your own company but doesn’t add value to the product or service – that’s the classic definition of waste. Did they lose focus? Not necessarily. But waste it still is.

  4. Jamie,
    I agree. However the reason why the stock performs better is that the transactional cost of a pronouncable ticker symbol is lower. Now if only that was a long lasting performance…
    My point is the value that a corporation generates goes much farther than the specific products or services we think it offers.
    For example, the stock itself, is a liquidity and sharholder wealth generating “service” in the capital markets. (As well as more indirect values like communicating the health of an industry or of the economy)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.