Monday, April 18, 2016

Braden Kelley

Interesting thought
I’m seeing an increasing number of articles about innovation personalities and the like, and I’m a firm believer that it’s not personalities that matter so much when it comes to innovation, it’s the roles that we play in making innovation happen (or not). So, I would like to add my Nine Innovation Roles to the conversation.

Too often we treat people as commodities that are interchangeable and maintain the same characteristics and aptitudes. Of course, we know that people are not interchangeable, yet we continually pretend that they are anyway — to make life simpler for our reptile brain to comprehend. Deep down we know that people have different passions, skills, and potential, but even when it comes to innovation, we expect everybody to have good ideas.
I’m of the opinion that all people are creative, in their own way. That is not to say that all people are creative in the sense that every single person is good at creating lots of really great ideas, nor do they have to be. I believe instead that everyone has a dominant innovation role at which they excel, and that when properly identified and channeled, the organization stands to maximize its innovation capacity. I believe that all people excel at one of nine innovation roles, and that when organizations put the right people in the right innovation roles, that your innovation speed and capacity will increase.
Here are The Nine Innovation Roles:
1. Revolutionary
The Revolutionary is the person who is always eager to change things, to shake them up, and to share his or her opinion. These people tend to have a lot of great ideas and are not shy about sharing them. They are likely to contribute 80 to 90 percent of your ideas in open scenarios.
2. Conscript
The Conscript has a lot of great ideas but doesn’t willingly share them, either because such people don’t know anyone is looking for ideas, don’t know how to express their ideas, prefer to keep their head down and execute, or all three.
3. Connector
The Connector does just that. These people hear a Conscript say something interesting and put him together with a Revolutionary; The Connector listens to the Artist and knows exactly where to find the Troubleshooter that his idea needs.
4. Artist
The Artist doesn’t always come up with great ideas, but artists are really good at making them better.

5. Customer Champion
The Customer Champion may live on the edge of the organization. Not only does he have constant contact with the customer, but he also understands their needs, is familiar with their actions and behaviors, and is as close as you can get to interviewing a real customer about a nascent idea.
6. Troubleshooter
Every great idea has at least one or two major roadblocks to overcome before the idea is ready to be judged or before its magic can be made. This is where the Troubleshooter comes in. Troubleshooters love tough problems and often have the deep knowledge or expertise to help solve them.
7. Judge
The Judge is really good at determining what can be made profitably and what will be successful in the marketplace.
8. Magic Maker
The Magic Makers take an idea and make it real. These are the people who can picture how something is going to be made and line up the right resources to make it happen.
9. Evangelist
The Evangelists know how to educate people on what the idea is and help them understand it. Evangelists are great people to help build support for an idea internally, and also to help educate customers on its value

Monday, April 11, 2016

From touch-points to journeys: Seeing the world as customers do
By Nicolas Maechler, Kevin Neher, and Robert Park

To maximize customer satisfaction, companies have long emphasized touch-points. But doing so can divert attention from the more important issue: the customer’s end-to-end journey.

Very powerful article with very rich insights. It highlights the importance of breaking internal barriers when creating customer experiences by looking at the journey through the customers’ eyes—the customer does not care how you are organized at all, they care about their complete experience with a company.

When most companies focus on customer experience they think about touch-points—the individual transactions through which customers interact with parts of the business and its offerings. This is logical. It reflects organization and accountability, and is relatively easy to build into operations. Companies try to ensure that customers will be happy with the interaction when they connect with their product, customer service, sales staff, or marketing materials. But this siloed focus on individual touch-points misses the bigger—and more important—picture: the customer’s end-to-end experience. Only by looking at the customer’s experience through his or her own eyes—along the entire journey taken—can you really begin to understand how to meaningfully improve performance.... 
...This is especially true in today’s multi-touchpoint, multi-channel, always-on, hyper-competitive consumer markets. The explosion of potential customer interaction points—across new channels, devices, applications, and more—makes consistency of service and experience across channels nigh impossible—unless you are managing the journey, and not simply individual touch-points.... 
...The answer isn’t to replace touch-point management and thinking. Indeed, the expertise, efficiencies, and insights that functional groups bring to bear are important, and touch-points will continue to represent invaluable sources of insights—particularly in the fast-changing digital arena. Instead, companies need to recognize and address the fact that—at least, in most cases—they are simply not wired to naturally think about the journeys their customers take. They are wired to maximize productivity and scale economies through functional units. They are wired for transactions, not journeys.
So how should companies tackle this issue? In our experience, six actions are critical to managing customer-experience journeys (articles elsewhere in this volume explore several of these topics in depth):
  • Step back and identify the nature of the journeys customers take—from the customer’s point of view. 
  • Understand how customers navigate across the touch-points as they move through the journey.
  • Anticipate the customer’s needs, expectations, and desires during each part of the journey. 
  • Build an understanding of what is working and what is not. 
  • Set priorities for the most important gaps and opportunities to improve the journey. 
  • Come to grips with fixing root-cause issues and redesigning the journeys for a better end-to-end experience. 
The amount of time it can take to identify journeys, understand performance, and redesign the experience can vary widely from company to company. For companies seeking only to fix a few glaring problems in specific journeys, top-down problem solving can be enough. But those that want to transform the overall customer experience may need a bottom-up effort to create a detailed road map for each journey, one that describes the process from start to finish and takes into account the business impact of enhancing the journey and sequencing the initiatives to do so. For many companies, combining operational, marketing and customer, and competitive-research data to understand journeys is a first-time undertaking, and it can be a long process—sometimes lasting several months. But the reward is well worth it; creating a fact base allows management to clearly see the customer’s experience and decide which aspects to prioritize.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Has Your Strategy’s Shelf Life Expired?
Ken Favaro

Very important, short article

.....I wrote about why distinctive customer targeting is a smart strategy. But over time, this strategy has to evolve. Consider two iconic companies, the National Football League and Walmart. 
In 1966, the National Football League merged with the American Football League and hosted the first Super Bowl. Fifty years later, the league attracts more male fans than just about any other professional sport in the United States. Walmart, meanwhile, spent the last five decades developing massive, full-line discount stores across the United States. Today, the company has few places left to build. 
Both the NFL and Walmart are nearing the limits of their target market. They are outgrowing their target customer. To continue growing, both need new markets to conquer. But that’s easier said than done. For example, in August 2015, the NFL’s Tampa Bay franchise introduced a campaign to attract more women to its games, but many found its approach condescending and insulting. Likewise, in early 2016, Walmart announced that it was shuttering its small-store format, Walmart Express. Express was an attempt to grow in urban areas and towns too small for a Walmart superstore.
An important lesson here is that when you’ve outgrown your target customer, you have to stretch every element of your strategy — namely, your target market, value proposition, and capabilities system — in a coherent way.
Consider Gap Inc. It created Old Navy in 1994 when its namesake business was nearing the saturation point with the target market for its classic-style, moderately priced clothing basics. Old Navy, now the jewel in Gap’s crown (although it just suffered a weak holiday season), sells on-trend clothing at a lower price point with a materially lower-cost store design. Its value proposition was designed to attract a different target customer, while leveraging the same design and supply chain capabilities that distinguished the original business. 
Now contrast Gap’s Old Navy and Walmart’s Express strategies. The latter requires new capabilities — for example, inventory and supply chain management that involve smaller, more frequent direct-to-store delivery drops — and a financial model that is low-volume, high-margin (the opposite of large stores). And it has a value proposition (locational convenience) that the general population doesn’t associate with its brand. As I predicted back in January 2014, it was doomed to fail.