We Are Uniquely Qualified To Help
Our team members have worked closely with thousands of small businesses, helping them to grow. We have learned the goals and key processes of numerous industries, their challenges, budgets and what they need to be successful.
But what makes us unique is that our roots are in consulting from within Fortune 500 companies, so we also understand how big business operates, the challenges of dispersed teams, multi-layer approval requirements and the disciplines of the system development life cycle, TQM, LEAN, project management and others. In targeting the SMB market you are trying to be nimble because you know that every day other SMBs are launching or changing direction to provide lower priced products and services that nibble away at your market share. But yet your internal processes often stifle innovation. We get it, and we can help.
Business Innovation and Strategy Workshop
Our business innovation strategy consulting for our corporate clients includes the following steps:
- Goal Setting – identification of the problem we are trying to solve.
- Data Gathering – key market statistics, interviews and observations including current customers, target customers and employees.
- Persona Development – profiles of target personas for whom we are trying to solve the problem.
- Idea Generation – facilitated brainstorming of how we might solve the specific problems of the target personas, as it relates to the overall problem established during goal setting.
- Solution Prototyping – facilitated development of process steps (in the case of a services solution), use case storyboards (in the case of a software application), or design mock ups (in the case of a physical product).
- Solution Validation – here we “take it to the streets”, so to speak. Prototypes are reviewed by interview participants for feedback.
- Solution Iteration and Selection – Feedback is incorporated into solution iterations and re-validated until the target personas give it a thumbs up.
Examples Of Problems That Can Be Tackled With A Business Innovation Strategy Workshop
- Does my software application meet the needs of my target customers?
- Is my product or service competitive in terms of price and features?
- I want to launch a new business unit but what would be a good market niche?
- Are there additional features I should add to my product or service to deliver better value?
- How are customers really using my product or service? How well are we meeting their needs?
- Is my development team really thinking outside the box or are they constrained by thinking ahead to implementation?
- Why am I losing market share?
Your Workshop Facilitator
Diane Moura, BCom., MBA
Diane is a passionate executive business consultant with 30 years of business and financial management experience from Corporate America to Small Business in the U.S., Canada, England, Australia and Latin America. She has expertise in marketing, corporate planning, product management, CRM, sales, operations, customer service, credit and collections. A thought leader with the versatility to set a compelling organizational vision and align with performers at all levels to guide execution, she moves easily from high level strategy to operational details. She is an expert facilitator able to bridge the communication gap between diverse groups to ensure clarity and consensus and has personally facilitated over 100 workshops. She has a proven track record in financial and cultural turnarounds and has successfully led sales teams to close high 8 figure deals. She has managed teams up to 300 people and budgets to $20 million. Diane speaks English, French and Portuguese.
What To Expect
Each of the following phases will be customized to fit the problem we are addressing, and whether the workshop will be conducted in person or virtually.
Phase 1 – Goal Setting
You may already have a clear definition of the problem you are trying to address and the goal for the business innovation strategy workshop, in which case Phase 1 can be as quick as a phone call. If you’re struggling with defining the problem, or if in speaking with you we believe the problem is not well defined, we may recommend some additional work during this phase.
Phase 2 – Data Gathering & Persona Development
If you already knew what your potential customers were thinking, you probably would have solved the problem by now. This phase is conducted virtually by us and will include:
- Assembling relevant key industry statistics and trends
- Interviewing each of the workshop participants
- A questionnaire for current customers (if applicable)
- A questionnaire for potential customers
- Supplementary customer interviews
- Adding our own experience with your target customer groups.
- Creating target persona sheets for each target customer group
Phase 3 – Business Innovation Strategy Workshop
- Review the goal
- Present the results of Phase 2
- Idea generation by persona – How might we address their needs? What might we do differently? Here the role of the facilitators is to not only keep the process moving, but to push back on group think and roadblocks.
- Idea categorization & prioritization – Take the free form ideas from the practical to the playful (we love playful by the way as it can free our thinking from the constraints of jumping ahead to execution) and categorize them into themes both within and across personas.
- Prototyping – Multi-functional sub groups break out to each tackle one or more of the personas. With their knowledge of their individual disciplines and the new ideas to address, they are tasked with creating a prototype of the solution. ZenChange facilitators will help spur the thinking along during the break out sessions. Each sub group will then present their prototype to the entire group for feedback.
Phase 4 – Solution Validation & Iteration
- Each sub group (who by this stage now feels a sense of ownership for their proposed solutions) will seek feedback from the group of customers, potential customers and employees, by presenting their solution for feedback, and continued iteration. Agreed changes will be captured as requirements that will feed into your company’s release plan, business plan or marketing plan as appropriate. During this phase, leadership of the business innovation and strategy process is transferred from ZenChange to your corporate executives, although as an option you may continue to engage us as advisors.
Key Success Factors
Our lessons learned on how to get the most out of your workshop.
We recommend the following:
- Assign a senior executive sponsor who will be involved in the goal setting phase as well as deliver a kick off message at the start of the workshop and view the presentations at the conclusion of the workshop.
- The workshop team should consist of representatives from multiple functional areas including sales, marketing, operations, customer support, finance and IT or product development. Select individuals who have a deep understanding of each area.
- Remember that the more industries you target during goal setting, the greater the time requirement for research and preparation. During the workshop, as personas will be divided among sub teams, you’ll need enough sub team members to assign a cross functional team to each persona. While not every discipline needs to be represented, and a single sub team can likely handle a couple of personas, the list should be manageable unless you are prepared for a project that could take several months. In our experience, sub teams of 3-5 people, a total workshop size of 9-20 people, and a total number of 3-6 personas are a good guideline.
- Minimize distractions. If workshop participants are coming and going during the workshop, or feel the need to constantly monitor their phones, we can guarantee that this project will fail. Part of the role of the senior executive is to create a safe space for participants to completely unplug and focus on the task at hand. We can divide the schedule over multiple weeks if that makes it easier, although in our experience, the more time that elapses between sessions, the more drop-off we see due to reduced momentum.
- Set aside sufficient time to do it right. If we are tackling a very simple problem with a single persona, it may be realistic to hold a 1-day workshop. However, typically in order to allow sufficient time for the sub-teams to develop their prototypes and present them for feedback, 2-3 full workshop days are more realistic. More time is required for a larger number of personas. Once we understand the goal of the workshop we will provide a detailed timeline that includes our preparation and summarization time.
- This workshop may be conducted in person or virtually. The benefit of in person is that it tends to increase natural collaboration activities. However, this does result in travel costs and the potential that the ideal participants may not be able to be there. If this is a concern then we recommend a virtual workshop using our team collaboration software. While there are license fees involved, they are typically less than a night in a hotel room.