In a previous post, HR Departments Have To Change, I highlighted an article on LinkedIn encouraging companies to follow in AirBnB’s footsteps and replace traditional HR with a capability focused on the employee experience.
Now a HBR article, Design Your Employee Experience As Thoughtfully As You Design Your Customer Experience, authored by Denise Lee Yohn, argues that companies already know how to improve their employee experience. They simply need to use the same tools and techniques they apply to customer experience and apply them to their HR processes.
I’m not sure I agree with that view as I know first hand there are still many large companies that are not customer centric – they may pay lip service but in reality they are not – and have no immediate plans to become customer centric.
But I do agree that many of the tools and techniques are transferable should they learn them and apply them. These include:
- applying needs-based segmentation to your employee base rather than simple and, generally irrelevant, demographic factors;
- understanding the employee journey through the use of journey mapping while recognising that employee journeys, just like customer journeys, are seldom linear;
The best customer experiences bring the company’s distinctive brand values and attributes to life, and the same is true of employee experiences.
Read the full article here.
In a previous post of mine titled A New Education System, I collated a number of videos from Sugata Mitra’s TED Talk, ‘Build a School in the Cloud’, to an animated video of a talk ‘Changing Education Paradigms’, given by Sir Ken Robinson, explaining how education systems are not student centric and essentially “educate” our creative capacity out of us and another by American Author and Marketer, Seth Godin.
Well here is yet another video that puts today’s education systems “on trial”, literally.
In a recent HBR article, Why the problem with learning is unlearning, Mark Bonchek contends that in this age of Digital disruption, companies have been too focused on learning new ways of doing things and have not paid enough attention to unlearning the ways of the past.
In every aspect of business, we are operating with mental models that have grown outdated or obsolete, from strategy to marketing to organization to leadership. To embrace the new logic of value creation, we have to unlearn the old one.
Boncheck clarifies that its not about forgetting what has been learnt in the past, but acquiring the ability to re-frame the situation and use a different mental model.
He gives the example of Porter’s Five forces and the essence behind the model that limits or boundaries must be set and then argues the likes of Google, Uber, Faebook and AirBnB don’t subscribe to this notion of setting limits.
They look beyond controlling the pipe that delivers a product and instead build platforms that enable others to create value. They look to create network effects through ecosystems of customers, suppliers, and partners.
Boncheck also articulates the core problem with modern marketing is the existing “one-to-many mindset” where we pretend “everything is linear and transaction”…
- We segment into discrete buckets even though people are multidimensional.
- We treat customers as consumers even when they want to be cocreators.
- We target buyers and run campaigns that push messages through channels even though real engagement increasingly happens through shared experiences.
- We move people through a pipeline that goes in one direction even though the customer journey is nonlinear.
He then asserts that “instead of using relationships to drive transactions, we could be building brand orbits and embedding transactions in relationships. Instead of customers being consumers, we could have relationships with them in a variety of roles and social facets. Beyond delivering a value proposition, we could be fulfilling a shared purpose.”
“In the area of organizational design, we are seeing an evolution from formal hierarchies to fluid networks. But this requires a substantial amount of unlearning. Our instincts are to think of an organization as an org chart. We automatically escalate decisions to the boss. I often hear executives talk about being “more networked,” but what they really mean is collaborating across the silos. To truly become a networked organization, you need decision principles that create both alignment and autonomy. But this requires unlearning in the areas of management, leadership, and governance.”
The good news, Bonchek contends, is we can practice unlearning. So get started today!
Read the full article here.
Following are three analytical tools used in the formulation of a Blue Ocean Strategy. The three tools we will look at are:
- Strategy Canvas
- Four Actions Framework
- Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create Grid
The Strategy Canvas
The Strategy Canvas is both a diagnostic tool and an action framework. From a diagnostic point of view, it is used to capture what is happening in the existing market space. The following example from the book describes the US wine market prior to Casella Wines introduction of Yellow Tail.
This paints a picture of where the competition is currently investing and the factors they compete on in products, services, delivery and what customers receive from the existing offerings.
Four Actions Framework
The Four Actions Framework asks four key questions to challenge an industry’s preexisting norms.
The eliminate and reduce questions lead you to gaining an insight into how to drop your cost structure while the create and raise questions lead you to gaining an understanding into how to increase customer value and generate new customer demand.
The third tool supplements the second encouraging action. The example below shows how Casella Wines answered those four key questions.
This resulted in a strategy canvas that looked like the following for Casella Wines’ new Yellow Tail brand in the US wine market.
You can see from the above picture, Yellow Tails curve has three very important characteristics.
- Focus: efforts were not diffused across all key factors of the competition
- Divergent: the value curve diverges from the competition
- Compelling Tagline: ‘a fun and simple wine to be enjoyed every day’
I have recently read the “international bestseller” Blue Ocean Strategy and found it a very insightful read. A blue ocean is essentially an uncontested market space where there are no competitors allowing the company that creates it to excel. However, a blue ocean strategy is not just about delivering something customers want that hasn’t been delivered before, its also about delivering a value innovation for the company as well.
Typically main stream strategy theory suggests companies must either choose a high cost differentiation strategy or a low cost price led strategy. Companies that create blue oceans however simultaneously achieve low cost and differentiation.
Red Ocean Strategy
- Compete in existing market space
- Beat the competition
- Exploit existing demand
- Make the value-cost trade-off
- Align the whole system of a firms activities with its strategic choice of differentiation or low cost
Blue Ocean Strategy
- Create uncontested market space
- Make the competition irrelevant
- Create and capture new demand
- Break the value-cost trade-off
- Align the whole system of a firms activities in pursuit of differentiation and low cost
While a company competing in a red ocean fights for existing customers that that market, a company competing in a blue ocean cultivates an entirely new set of customers as it creates an entirely new market space.
For example Cirque du Soleil didn’t just enter the existing market space of traditional circuses, it created an all new market and captured customers whom were not typically customers of the circus but customers whom were looking to be entertained.
It also reduced its costs when compared to traditional circuses by removing big name star performers and animals.
When Casella Wines introduced its ‘easy to drink’, ‘to be enjoyed by everyone’ wine Yellow Tail, to the US market, it took customers from the two distinctive wine markets – the high end and ultra cheap – and combined them with customers whom would normally drink beer, alcopops or cocktails, to create an entirely new market space.
It also reduced its costs by initially creating only one red and one white and bottling them in the same type bottle. Traditionally red wine and white wine had always been sold in two different styles of wine bottle.
In my next post I’ll explore some of the tools and frame works that have been created to both help identify and execute a blue ocean strategy.
Just as businesses start focusing on being ‘customer centric’ and developing a ‘customer experience’ that will ensure customers want to repeatedly do business with them, there are many arguing that to be ‘customer centric’, is really to be ‘human centric’ and the same can also be applied to staff.
Some companies, like Airbnb, are redefining the role of the HR department to be broader and replacing the senior most HR role with a ‘Chief Employee Experience Officer’ role.
Mark Levy’s new role of Chief Employee Experience Officer at Airbnb combines traditional HR functions of recruiting and talent development with marketing, real estate, facilities, social responsibility, and communications.
What is clear is that this move quite visibly positions the employee experience as critical to the business, not HR. This is absolutely right, in my view, and gives practitioners the confidence and belief to know that HR is no longer a support function within the business, because the employee experience, to a large extent, is the business.
…how easy would it be for you to follow Airbnb and co in creating a function dedicated to the employee experience that brings together multiple functions (or silos if they are starting to hinder collective progress), which all play a major organisational role and get them all aligned and driving your business forward?
In a recent interview with Tech2, Ashutosh Sharma, VP and research director at technology and market research company Forrester, decreed that organisations “need to go beyond customer-centric to become customer-obsessed” as part of the ongoing digital transformation.
…digital transformation is the process that businesses need to go through, at the end of which they are able to exploit digital technologies to create new sources of value for customers, as well as increase operational agility in service of customers.”
but to date, Sharma argues…
…companies were able to get away with displaying limited customer empathy and customer centricity at touch points that were most visible to the customer. It was only skin-deep. A successful digital transformation requires that all the functions within the company, even behind the line of visibility, are as customer-obsessed as the rest of the organisation,”
and it has to be led from the very top…
Unlike previous transformations, this time it is not about improving the efficiencies or reducing the costs which can be effectively led by functional heads. Being a customer-obsessed enterprise takes the whole village. The CEO needs to lead from the front and formulate the vision and the strategy for the entire organisation”
Read the full interview here.
Whether you’re talking about a consumer or a corporation, a hassle map defines all of the actual steps that characterize the negative experiences of the customer. Think about these questions: Where are the emotional hot spots, the irritations, the frustrations, the time wasted, the delay? Where are the economic hot spots? And then think about this: What are the ways that businesses can radically improve the hassle map for both the customer and themselves?
They sound very similar to customer journey maps and possibly frame the “problem” differently in a way that may work better for different types of people who see and think differently.
Creating a hassle map view of the customer experience would help some question every step of the process as if it was a negative and not fall into the trap of brushing it aside because “that’s the way its always been done”.
Each extra step, wasted moment, avoidable risk, needless complication, less-than-optimal solution, awkward compromise, and disappointing outcome is a friction point on the hassle map. And each represents an opportunity for a creative organization to create new demand by eliminating the friction or even reversing it, turning hassle into delight.
Read Annette’s full blog post here.
Read the original Adrian Slywotzky inerview on Inc. here.
I’d like to highlight a recent post by Kimberley Crofts of Meld Studios which captures one of the core problems with legacy corporates and their adoption of a Customer Centric mindset. It’s “the problem with product-led thinking in a service-dominant world”.
Crofts references Lynn Shostack from 1984…
…these procedures (Gantt charts etc) provide managers with a way to visualise a process and to define and manipulate it at arm’s length. What they miss is the consumer’s relationship to, and interaction with, services. They make no provision for people-rendered services that require judgement and a less mechanical approach. They don’t account for the service’s products that must be managed simultaneously with the process” (Shostack, 1984).
Croft then goes on to contrast an Artisans way of thinking and working versus an industrialist or production line.
Where the artisan is guided by stories of past use to guide their making, the industrial worker is “bound to the execution of step-by-step sequences of determinate motions”
Croft continues to question how organisations might take an approach more like an Artisan.
You can read the full post here.
People with skills in service design, human-centered design, design thinking, experience design, as well as innovationists and customer engagement specialists are all in high demand. Everyone wants them but suitable candidates are a rare find. This is largely due to the explosion of organisations now seeking to use the toolset of design to produce human- centred strategies, business models, brands, organisational cultures, products and services. The relatively few tertiary courses focused specifically on this type of design in Australia compounds the scarcity issue.
Franklin suggests looking for individuals from nearby domains such as “ndustrial design, user experience, market research, organisational psychology, graphic design, and business consulting”.
And then “selecting individuals who think and behave in ‘designerly ways’”.
- True empathy matched with a passion to improve the way people interact with the world
- The ability to understand and shape other’s needs and behaviours
- A curious, open mind
- The ability to see patterns and make inferences based on these (known as abductive reasoning)
- Enough resilience to sit with not knowing the answer right now, but persevering regardless
- A desire to experiment, reflect and iterate
- The ability to paint a picture that allows others to digest what needs to be communicated
- Integrity and the strength to hold an informed point of view
- The skill and will to bring others on the journey.
- Upon finding individuals with a mix of these attributes, the program you put together to expose these individuals to immersive design projects – supported by formal learning and development activities – is a critical next step to meeting your recruiting needs.
You can read the full post here.