What’s coming up…
Our intention over the next five years is to build on the intertwining themes of co-creating value, leading and working from a values base, satisfying stakeholder needs, and building strong, trust-based relationships, as the core of a flourishing future.
We will do this with clients in a manner which illuminates and builds on the outcomes that we wish to co-create. This means being innovative in our dual approach to innovation and satisfying our clients’ needs whilst helping them deliver more value to their stakeholders.
We will endeavour to create even more insightful and useful intellectual property by developing points of view that can be utilized to focus our clients’ learning and the changes in motivation, mindset and behaviours that will add value for their stakeholders.
We will also develop our foresight; our capability to bring our clients’ potential future(s) to their attention in a way which will allow them to make choices which are purposeful and practical.
We have proven that what we bring in terms of what we feel, think and do as a consultancy really make a relational and profitable difference for our clients and their stakeholders. Our intention is to have a far stronger, even more cogent voice that further influences the way business and relationships are conducted for mutual fun and profit.
Examples of Co-Creation
(taken from HSBC’s 100 Thoughts series)
Let Your Customers Join Your Team
Sometimes the best talent isn’t just within your own walls. ‘Crowd-sourcing’ allows you to engage customers in new product design.
British drinks firm Firefly took this idea to heart and last year asked customers to design their new drink, including the flavour, label design and name. The result is ‘Britannia’, a raspberry, blackberry and Bramley apple drink, which has just gone on sale.
“We had so many wonderful entries, it was hard for us to choose, so we got customers to vote for their favourite,” says co-founder Marcus Waley-Cohen. “The winning design is just what we were looking for – fun, creative, and a well-rounded concept!”
Involve To Solve
“This idea was born using Edward De Bono’s ‘Six Thinking Hats’ system over a cup of coffee, with a napkin to map out a new way to finance an album.”
South-African singer Verity wanted to build on her success on the Cape Town live music scene by releasing an album – but couldn’t get a recording contract.
“Basically, my idea was to have forward-thinking people buy my first album before I recorded it, “ she says.
The incentive Verity designed was to give these customers a sense of involvement and ownership in the creative process. They could vote on which tracks would be recorded, what the album would be called, which cover art to use and so on. This unique approach gained her press and TV coverage, helping to market the idea.
More than 2,000 people from 25 countries bought the album in advance, giving her the funds she needed – and acting as part of her marketing team to sell the album for others, because they felt it was partly theirs. Verity now donates some of the profits from her album to help other singers to record demos.
“Dairy farming is one of those traditional UK industries that has had to diversify to expand and prosper. They’ve faced tightening prices, lower subsidies and major environmental shocks. “
I was really impressed with the approach taken by the sons from two long-established neighbouring dairy farms. One was really strong on marketing, the other on the craft of cheese-making. So they decided to use their complementary skills to set up a joint venture tackling the premium cheese market. It increased capacity and gave the company the ability to compete nationally whilst retaining the ancient method of cave-hanging – the essence of the brand.
The joint venture worked, and the confidence encouraged them to look at the US where there’s a big demand for high-end traditional British products. Their turnover grew from £7m to £18m.
Don’t Squeeze Your Suppliers
Conventional wisdom dictates that in a downturn suppliers must be squeezed until the pips squeak. But this short-term fix can do more harm than good in the long run.
Instead, says Darrell Rigby of Bain and Co, smart companies “treat their suppliers as fellow combatants trapped in the same foxhole.” Chrysler’s strategy in the teeth of the 1990 recession was brilliant. Rather than forcing pain on their suppliers, they got closer to them. They outsourced more to them, thereby reducing inventory and improving cycle times. If suppliers came up with a cost saving of more than 10% they would share the savings with them.
Chrysler used the cash to invest in new products and as a result, was the only Big Three car maker to turn a profit the following year.
Examples of Co-Creation
(taken from HSBC’s 100 Thoughts series)
DEMOCRATIC BY DESIGN
Clothing retailers have to take a big risk when buying up next season’s stock – often relying on little more than their hunch.
Pittsburgh-based online clothing retailer ModCloth believes there is another way.
Susan Gregg Koger and her team put new samples up for a vote on ModCloth’s website for 14 days. After counting up the votes, the company decides whether it’s worth the investment. If an item is picked, the customers who voted for it receive an e-mail when their chosen design becomes available.
This ‘Be the Buyer’ programme also helps build a strong rapport with customers. “Our vision is to run a fashion business in a democratic style. Allowing customers to have their voice heard is what keeps us fresh and relevant,” says Susan. As they’ve increased their staff from 3 to 104 in the last two years, it clearly works for the bottom line too.
Self Service Grows Legs
Self service is growing in some industries. What other sectors can it be applied to?
MiNiBAR, in the heart of Amsterdam, is a self service bar. When you arrive, a concierge gives you the key to your own fridge which is stocked with beer, wine, spirits and snacks. You and your friends help yourselves over the course of the evening, and settle up your account before leaving. The mini-bars are stocked from the back, making re-stocking easy. It’s simply extending the concept of the hotel mini-bar to the high street – but it’s new and is bound to attract interest.
From the customer perspective, it’s fun, convenient and there’s no more queuing at the bar. From a business perspective, it also means fewer staff members, and more customers can be accommodated because less space is taken up by the bar.
To Save Costs – Embrace Your Staff
In tough times, companies need to make every penny a prisoner. Yet, as the saying goes, real change comes from within.
When the Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic found that its 2008 expenses were far exceeding income, it turned to its employees for their ideas on where to cut costs. The not-for-profit medical group did this by setting up a web-site where each member of staff could suggest ways of reducing expenditure.
One department saved nearly $900,000 a year by turning off non-essential computers when offices were closed. Another suggested separating hazardous waste, which is more expensive to get rid of, and another department dropped printed employee directories in favour of an online version, saving more than $100,000.
As a result the Mayo clinic came up with savings of around $154 million. And the spin-off benefit is that staff feel engaged.
Old Heads New Ideas
“To remain competitive in a global economy, companies must accelerate the pace of innovation.”
“Looking externally and strategically for new ideas is necessary for growth,” says Brad Lawson, President and CEO of YourEncore.
In the knowledge-economy, your competitive edge comes from your team’s brainpower. Yet the most knowledgeable workers are often pensioned-off in their early sixties. It is a huge loss of intellectual power.
US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and consumer-goods company Procter and Gamble traditionally relied on the talent inside the company. But then they had the bright idea of harnessing the power of retired experts.
In 2003, they set up YourEncore to allow companies to connect with this amazing knowledge-base. Member companies contact YourEncore with specific project needs and YourEncore then matches an experienced ‘Expert’. To date they have completed over 1,400 engagements and have thousands of experts enrolled.
The open nature has the advantage that people see, and solve, problems that seem to be outside their field. Lawson gives an example: “A retired chemical engineer who’d spent 35 years at Kodak perfecting colour stability in photography was able to work with a consumer products client to improve colour stability in their hair-care products.”
Think Beyond Marketing
Japan Post, the Japanese postal service, is a central pillar of Japanese life. When former PM Junichiro Koizumi announced plans to liberalise it, advertising agency JWT saw the potential of pitching new ideas to a previously traditional organisation.
Tasked with creating a new campaign for Kit Kat in Japan, the agency JWT noticed that students had connected Kit Kat with the Japanese phrase Kitto-Katsu, meaning ‘surely win’. It linked with the tradition of sending good-luck wishes to students facing tough exams.
In order to amplify this word of mouth, JWT approached Japan Post with something bigger. Together they created the Kit Kat Kit Mail, a ‘chocolate post-card’ in a cardboard sleeve on which you can write a message and send to someone facing exams.
Japan Post loved the opportunity to build closer bonds with customers. Overnight it took Kit Kat into an additional 20,000 locations free of competition. They sold 250,000 Kit Kat Mails, and it has proved so popular they have made it a permanent feature.
It shows the beauty of turning your marketing into a product, and the power of partnering.
Set Up a Date
The dating business model is highly profitable – but companies have been slow to spot its potential for other industries.
Spanish company Busuu.com spotted the opportunity and started an online language school with a difference – there are no teachers. “Every user is not only a student of a foreign language but also a tutor of his own mother –tongue,” says co-founder Bernhard Niesner.
Busuu directly connects native speakers in different countries who want to learn a language – so a Spaniard seeking to learn English can connect with an English-speaker wishing to learn Spanish. Lessons take place in online video chats, with guidance notes provided for structure. Users correct each other’s written work.
It’s popular, and people stick with it. Bernhard puts this down to the peer-to-peer model, “Normally when you start a new language you are quite insecure. But if you see others also making mistakes and you can help them, it motivates you to continue.”
Go Global For Gold
When Goldcorp Inc. acquired a poor-performing gold mine in Ontario it knew it was sitting on high-grade gold, as it was adjacent to high-performing mines. But with 55,000 acres of land to survey, it would take a massive effort to interpret the data.
The CEO at the time, Rob McEwan, took a highly unusual step. Under the ‘Goldcorp Challenge’ banner, he released all their data to the wider community of geologists, and offered a large cash prize for the best information on where to drill.
Whilst open-sourcing is common in high tech, it goes against the conventional thinking of an old-economy business like mining. “Mineral discovery is much like technological discovery,” figured McEwan.
The response was amazing. More than 1400 international geologists downloaded the company’s data. And when the results yielded a rich seam of gold, their willingness to open up their business to new thinking has helped turn a $100 million company into a $30 billion success story.