Dave Jackson, CEO of TheCustomer.Co, wrote a popular post on LinkedIn where he argued that ownership in business “creates division.” I disagreed. At ‘nuffsaid, one of our core values is to ensure every decision has one owner.  

Dave joined me on the ‘wellsaid podcast to debate this topic. I really enjoyed our conversation, so here’s an excerpt from one of Dave’s most powerful responses. 



I believe ownership is a last-century concept built on the bankrupt idea of hierarchy. 

The genesis of this idea is many years in the making and it's based on bitter experience in a way—not about taking ownership of things, but about trying to control things.  

I'm not concerned about what you call it: Customer Success, Customer Experience, or customer focus. My understanding is this: if you're going to be truly customer-focused, you need the whole of the organization pointing in that direction. You need the whole of the organization aligned. But the bankrupt thinking piece is that we are still building organizations with silos without thinking about how we need to collaborate and do the right thing for the customer.

As soon as you create a silo, somebody says, “That's mine, go away, leave me to it. Don't do it.” People hoard their areas of ownership. And that in my opinion is what gets in the way of building a truly customer-focused organization.

Chris wrote the following on my post: “If your company really does believe that customer outcomes are shared across everyone, then the CEO can solve this by:

  • Creating core values around the customer (CEO responsibility)
  • Defining strategy and getting team alignment (CEO responsibility)
  • Setting shared goals/OKRs around customer outcomes (CEO responsibility)” 

He was dead right. But the problem is that not many CEOs do that. The problem is CEOs still say, “Hey, Marketing, here's your budget. Go away and do that. Sales, you go do that. Come up with the org plans.” Meanwhile, nobody thinks about what this looks like for the customer as a whole. In this way, I believe ownership is bankrupt.

Shared values, team alignment, and OKRs are all vehicles for creating collaboration. The problem is collaboration never appears on an org chart. But it's the most important part of building a successful customer-focused organization. That's the piece that I'm railing against—this lack of collaboration. The idea of, “This is mine, leave it alone.”

CEO as Architect

Creating a culture of collaboration comes down to the ability of a CEO to break down silos. As a CEO, you must emphasize shared values, alignment, and work on facilitating collaboration company-wide. A CEO should be like an architect. 

The first thing any good architect does is to figure out who is using the building. What are their needs and expectations? How can they be delighted? It starts with understanding the user. Then the second thing an architect does is sketch out a high-level blueprint. Once you've got everyone across a company participating and contributing to the overall design, then you can say, “Within the architecture, Marketing - go and do your thing, and Sales - go and do that thing.” 

Architecture is not just about walls. It is about how we use spaces—how things flow from one part to another. It's about purposefully designing those parts of the organization that are unseen. There's a saying, “Every organization is perfectly designed to achieve the results it does.”

The CEO must be the Chief Organization Designer. They must take the lead in forming the architecture, in bringing people together to design the culture, and in ensuring that the company is always thinking back to, “Who are our chosen customers, what are their needs and expectations, and how do we delight them?” Once you've got those mechanisms in place, then you can start to delegate ownership. 

Building a Collaborative Architecture

There is a lost art of real organization design, which has very little to do with lines and boxes and more about an alignment mechanism. CEOs need to be thoughtful about org design and build out the three pieces of a collaborative architecture. 

  1. Ideal Customer Profile: Get crystal clear about who your chosen customers are—not just what companies you serve, but the individuals within those companies. Customer Success is not about customers. It's about people. So you build this really deep understanding (called an Ideal Customer Profile) and determine the target individuals, their needs, and how they're measured. 
  2. Single Customer Journey: Use that knowledge to develop a framework of the customer’s needs and challenges across one single entire lifecycle. Not a Sales process, not a Marketing process, not a Customer Success process, not a Pro Services process. It should be one customer journey in which every part is written from the outside in. Every stage is described by what the customer or prospect at that stage is trying to achieve and how you can help them.
  3. Detailed Value Framework: Then you take those two pieces and translate them to an understanding of how to deliver value at each piece. 

If there's a fourth piece, it's around metrics. In an ideal world, everyone would be on the same bonus plan based on either Net Revenue Retention or, if you're mature enough, the LTV:CAC ratio. Both of those bring in the whole of the organization and force it to think about how to make the business successful, not just how each department can make its silo successful.


The mistake many leaders make regardless of their department happens when they go to the leadership table. They believe they're there to represent their function, which is wrong. You do the right thing for the business, even if your individual department loses at that point in time. 


You're a business leader first and a silo leader second.



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