We are seeing an increase in organizations’ search for solutions that help organizations better align their products ...
that help organizations better align their products and solutions with their customers. In many enterprises today there are innovation and customer experience managers (which are an extension of product management). With today’s awareness of the importance of designing an accurate product or a service that is riding on the huge changes in technological innovation and fueled by the global competition in a world where customers, consumers, vendors, and competitors are all connected through social networks, the organization’s managers usually have a number of potential alternatives to enhance the existing solution or an opportunity for new investments. So they are required to decide.
For the decision to be “evidence-based”, over time some methodologies have evolved to help the organization, and its managers make educated decisions. Many organizations perform surveys that explore customer satisfaction with the service or product after they have experienced or purchased it. Others focus on customer feedback to questions that try to test the customer’s preferences (Voice of Customer) — many times by using focus groups that represent the potential customers to get the customer’s opinion. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages.
New methodologies such as Jobs to Be Done (and specific tools like JTBD lab — http://jtbd.tech/) focus on customer behavior and less on customer surveys. Which provides better accuracy to identify the problem that the enterprise should solve by examining what the customer is trying to get done when using a service or product. However, this is for another article.
When it comes to innovation, it turns out that innovation is not everyone’s responsibility in the organization. Ironically, in most companies, only a few people decide what enhancements will enter the product or service. This small group of people (VPs, directors and other managers) is ultimately responsible for organizational innovation, and if they approve activities that fail to pass the development process or fail in the market, they will waste the company’s time, money and resources. As a result, managers understand that the process of creating innovation should gather ideas from other professionals, but in a systematic and such process that will preserve the focus of the process and examine practical feasibility.
More and more organizations already harness employees’ insights to renew and improve the enterprise’s products and services (Voice of Employee- VoE) on two primary levels:
Collecting employee insights differs from gathering ideas from customers. An employee is a different persona with different characteristics. Usually, the employee shares similar interests with the organization. In most cases, the employee is more professional (compared to the customer), and also aware of the disadvantages and failures of the product. The employee is responsible for his ideas and insights and his reputation, in the organization, is very important to him.
The insights of employees cannot be exposed outside the inner circle of relevant working decision-makers and certainly not outside of the organization (that will reach customers or competitors who can make use of it). If for engagement with consumers the identification system of Facebook account is good enough. In the Voice of Employee systems system, the identification should be part of the organizational identification system in combination with compartmentalization, so that specific information will not leak to unauthorized persons (e.g., information that is part of the intellectual property or a knowledge that can be patented).
Feasibility Study — Applying insights requires a feasibility study that takes into account many financial factors (e.g investment and return on investment, development time), operational and logistics (e.g needed resources, production estimates) and others. To utilize the sharing of energy, which is not self-evident, it is necessary to conduct a preliminary examination during the campaign to neutralize insights that are not applicable at that stage and focus on relevant ideas.
For some organizations, a hybrid environment — a combination of employees and customers provided the desired solution of connecting employees with customers’ needs. Especially for employees who have no contact with customers on a regular basis. Moreover, this creates a connection between the field and the product development team. A hybrid environment is characterized by different types of persona with different needs in a unified environment. The first versions of the open-source idea management software OpenideaL (https://www.openidealapp.com) targeted the need for gathering insights from customers. Advanced versions added support for collecting ideas from employees and suppliers which brought us to understand the challenges of conducting hybrid campaigns involving external and internal environments.
Many organizations lead such sharing processes in light of a specific problem. This can be an engineering problem in the view of a large project or high rate of churn in a particular product. However, some organizations have realized that sharing should be an ongoing process since organizational challenges exist regularly. Moreover, for collaboration to become an integral part of the employees’ work routine, the organization must maintain the idea of sharing regularly and assimilate it into the organizational DNA. For this purpose, organizational methods have evolved to preserve the tension required to transform cooperation into a permanent process that influences decision-making processes in the organization.