Foreword By Karel Czanderna

Group President, Building Materials, Owens Corning

Jerry, Keith and the team have created one of the first systems I have found that truly allows us to learn what our customer values and use that information in the daily operation of the business, from investments to sales planning and execution. The logic of what they have done is flawless and brilliant. What is even more powerful is that it is all based on an approach that creates tools and capability which will generate benefit for our customers and our company for years to come.

We have come a long way in our almost three years with Valkre, and we still have a long way to go. Maybe the single biggest compliment one could make about the power and potential of this approach is that we are still excited after three years, and the momentum continues to build. That is quite a testimony considering the challenging building markets over the past couple years. We are focused on initiatives that are adding value to our customer and our shareholders…and this is guiding both.

I started my career in research, product development and manufacturing, and didn’t meet a customer for 10 years until I led a team servicing office copiers in the field. When I finally did it changed my career. It was then I recognized the challenge of people and just how hard it is to move an organization of 1000’s of employees to pursue and deliver what matters to the customer. It’s no easy task because it permeates every function in the organization from marketing to innovative product development to logistics to capital and operational planning to selling and so much more. And you know what, my experiences at three great brand companies showed not all of the customers value everything you do in the same way or even at the same level. In the end, the journey of understanding what is valuable to each customer through to creating a sustainable competitive advantage for your company does not happen by accident. It takes diligent management and requires the organization to build a competency for doing so. The book you are about to read will go a long way to helping you develop or expand your competency. I wish Jerry, Keith and team had developed this holistic system sooner as I sure could have used it throughout my tenure in business.

Right now is absolutely the time to be working harder than ever to understand what will persuade customers to buy from you. The competency of understanding and executing against what creates value for customers relative to your competition is not a "nice to have" it is a "must have". Waiting to develop this competency is akin to waiting to be successful, and success most often occurs from acting, not waiting. So read on, and proactively build your own Playbook.