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Which CEO said: “The customer is not our highest priority”

January 4, 2008 - 3 Comments

In the spirit of the U.S. Presidential campaign season where candidates must differentiate themselves from other candidates…and, on occasion, unfortunately, “go negative” to highlight what they believe voters should know about their opponents, I offer you this Q&A with Juniper CEO Scott Kriens by Mark Boslet of the San Jose Mercury News.Kriens states the following: “The highest priority for the company is our own employees. By contrast, we don’t say it is the customer or it’s the investor. If we make a priority out of making employees successful – the deal in return is that we get a commitment to reach the objectives that are the responsibility of that person.”Correct me if I’m wrong, but you don’t have any employees if you don’t have customers or investors, right? Juniper is a good company and has been a good competitor to Cisco, but I think their CEO may have misspoken a bit here. At Cisco, we know that we don’t (as employees) exist without customers, which is why they are our top priority. Employees and Shareholders round out our top three most important constituents, but customers are definitely #1. This is why our bonuses are based on customer satisfaction.On the campaign front, congratulations to Senator Obama and Governor Huckabee. And, not to pooh-pooh their Iowa victories, but I think that all major candidates still remain viable past New Hampshire. Elections have gotten more national and as important as Iowa and New Hampshire are in the nominee selection process, I think that other states have more of a say now in who is their party’s candidate. We shall see if I’m right on that front.

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  1. Richard Branson of Virgin"" brand fame has the same view - empowered, motivated, committed employees will result in committed customers which in turn results in happy shareholders. It seems to work for him.Of course legally, company directors and managers are required to always to put the interest of shareholders first. So any business that does a good job of considering customers and/or employees before shareholders is a winner in my books."

  2. I agree with 'you don't have any employees if you don't have customers or investors' statement...but I think Juniper CEO's statement might be taken a bit out of context here

  3. John, I agree. I think it is important to understand the context from which the comment may have been made and the intended audience. Juniper is doing the bulk of their hiring outside San Jose, which tells me more sales/marketing people than engineers. Cisco has no problem attracting talent, so how does the competition differentiate itself if it is trying to attract talent? Employees first."" Sounds good, but as a practical matter it is just lip service. You still have to balance the books at the end of the day. Also, this was an interview in the San Jose Mercury News - messaging a local audience. Sounds like a recruiting effort. I am sure if Juniper is speaking to Avaya, Lucent, Ericsson or Nokia, the message would be, ""Oh, of course you come first!"""^0^1^^^0^0 11199^5898^shawn^^^^2008-05-23 01:02:19^2008-05-23 01:02:19^"I never knew Ciso company had a blog until now. . I will do my best to visit you regularly, so that i may indeed give my personal insight to the value of your blog posts. Thanks so much for having this great content..:-)Shawn"