The content population conundrum
September 15, 2021
Innovation is a fickle blend of art, science, and a sprinkle of some fairy dust and magic that words can't do justice to. Thinking outside the box, failing fast, and experimenting with new technologies are all outstanding attributes of great innovation teams and minds. But what makes the world changers stand out from the great is the focus on the customer. Having a customer-centric mindset is something that companies like Apple and Google have mastered (potentially too well... but that's a conversation for another day). They have ingrained a continuous cycle of feedback-based pivoting into a fail-fast culture while maintaining focus on the customer - something that I find very inspirational.
When thinking about the customer, it's pretty easy to imagine your Joe Smith persona sitting in a coffee shop using (and loving) the new app you've just released. But the term 'customer' is vastly larger than that and encompasses anyone who is on the receiving end of something you produce. As an innovation lab, our customers include product users, beta testers, investors, our leadership team, partners, and (potentially most importantly) each other. It's through the development of respect for each other, our individual unique attributes, and our work that we've built a culture where we have empathy for not only our customer and end users but for anyone who might be directly or indirectly impacted by the products we put in market - whoever that may be.
I recently saw an example of this whilst developing the story board for our ATB Ventures newsletter. Whilst pulling this together, we realized that there wasn't an easy way for us to create a newsletter that looked and moved in the way we wanted within our chosen email platform. Based on my experience in more traditional workplaces I would say that this is normally where the brainstorming and creativity ends. As a non-technical team member requesting the time of our highly-in-demand developers, I anticipated that the response to my request would be "tweak the design and copy so that it fits within the bounds of the program you're trying to use."
Here's where things get interesting - the two developers I was working with understood that at that moment I was their customer and they put themselves in my shoes. Although there were justifiable reasons why the project should halt or end there, they understood that our brand and content function would be significantly impacted by having or not having an easy to use tool that we could use to create the experience that we wanted for our end user. In that moment, they decided to create a unique newsletter generation tool which our brand and content team can easily manipulate and export into our email platform.
The point of this is not to highlight the aesthetically pleasing, easy to use bespoke tool that they created for us, but instead highlight the importance of creating a culture that encourages empathy for customers (whomever they might be) and creative problem solving. The two developers on our team not only delivered an incredibly useful tool, but also reminded me that a roadblock doesn't mean it's the end of the road. The pathway continues on the other side; you just need some creative brainstorming to figure out the most effective way to get over the barricade. A reminder so important to the way we need to operate, the way we need to innovate, and the way we need to live. And a reminder so important that it compelled me to write a blog about it.
If you want to learn more about what it's like to work for ATB Ventures, check out our feature in Fast Company where we were named one of the best workplaces for innovators, internationally.