Posts Tagged ‘process efficiency’

Co-Creation from A to Z, Continued

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

AtoZ

More entries in the continuing series of company-centric buzzwords and their co-creative alternatives.

Experience: Something pleasurable you design for your customers because you’re perceptive and know what they want.  As a result, customers come back and you deliver more of that experience, ideally several times a day. Make sure this great experience is delivered in exactly the same fashion every time, because the more often people get exactly the same experience, the higher they rate their experience, and then you get rich.

The co-created alternative: Customers are like children – they don’t want to simply play with your toys. The little girl wants to kiss your stuffed koala, give him a name, invent stories about him, pull his eyes out, use him to club the little boy in the sandbox who annoys her, and trade what’s left of it for a new Bratz. You’re not really designing or controlling that little girl’s koala experience, are you? Think of this toy as a platform that allows the little girl to co-create her koala experience, complete with detachable eyes, weapon transformability, and second-hand koala market.

Innovation: A CEO incantation, typically supplemented by an arm-waving process controlled by a headquarters czar who reads Harvard Business Review and has a consulting budget. The czar relies on a large network of virtual resources who commit 5% of their time to attend PowerPoint meetings, during which they respond to their bosses’ e-mails coaching them to focus on real things if they want a bonus at the end of the year.

The co-created alternative: Pick the dirtiest process in the dirtiest plant you can find, and see if you can convince actors in that process to connect to some kind of customer experience in the real world. You may have to dress up Joe the Scheduler before sending him to customers, but be prepared for a new vocation as facilitator. Let Joe talk his manufacturing buddies into doing the same when he comes back from the customer workshop. Then hire a corporate czar to document the corporate innovation process proving that Joe the Scheduler is in compliance.

Market research: The art of observing unsuspecting customers or prospects in their natural habitats, or interrogating them in a poorly lit room with a window to nowhere, for a fee and the vague promise that what they say might one day reach some executive who didn’t care enough to be there in the first place. The quantitative data is then directed to PhD statisticians who build elaborate models featured at market research conferences while the qualitative data gives otherwise unemployable English majors a chance to use obscure words they learned in their Jungian philosophy class.

The co-created alternative: Smash the one-way mirror and start poking at customers. See if you can get a few of them to poke back until a massive brawl ensues. Select the fighters who care enough to duel with you late into the night and get them to volunteer as scouts for your army from there on.

Net Promoter Score: A silly question asking customers whether they like the stuff they just bought and are willing to recommend it to their Mom. From there on, customers evaluations enter an algebraic whirlpool where some votes get added (sometimes), subtracted (more often), and ignored (most of the time), ultimately producing the blinding insight that you’re more likely to be successful if people like your stuff.

The co-created alternative: For sure, liking your stuff is a good thing. But it ain’t the same as being engaged. For example, I like Gouda cheese and would highly recommend it to my friends, but I’m not that engaged with it. Conversely, I’m quite engaged with the Arsenal Football Club because I watched them cream Tottenham today and I love to read and write about their amazing coach Arsène Wenger who’s the greatest genius that ever was and is virtually from my home town. I also want to complain about the referees who are so absurdly biased against those wonderful young players who will undoubtedly win the Champions League this year if there’s any justice. I guess I’m a net promoter for both Gouda cheese and Arsenal, but somehow Arsenal seems more important in my life than Gouda cheese…

Patent: Scientific trophy aimed at recompensing ego-driven scientists pretending that what they found will one day matter to a customer in the real world.

The co-created alternative: Remember Bell Labs, long number-one in the patent charts, and now peacefully resting in the great corporate cemetery reserved for irrelevant innovators? Your scientists will undoubtedly threaten you with fire and brimstone if you open up your innovation process to the outside, but remember that they don’t have a monopoly on cleverness. Other nerds out there in China have figured out stuff that is more customer-ready than your own developments. Also be prepared for the “we’re all about IP” speech by your lawyers. Remember they’d rather deal with the overworked guy at the Patent Office than with other lawyers who are as smart as they are at these other firms that innovate with you.

Process efficiency: The art of identifying the lowest common denominator in customer expectation, and training customers to accept the unilateral standard of mediocrity you’ve just set. The best practice in process design is called “straight-through processing,” which involves the eradication of any human involvement. If people  insist on being involved, talk about “knowledge process” and dismiss it as an exception.

The co-created alternative: Processes are to interactions what, uh, solitary pleasures are to sex. You need an excellent process to handle your half of the latter, but it tends to be quite different from your best-practice process for the former. Your experience also tends to be different, not to mention your partner’s. We highly recommend co-designing the two halves of the process in the context of the two-way interaction. It’s more fun that way.