Using Innovation Games with Customer Advisory Boards
A Customer Advisory Board (CAB) is a specially selected group of customers, executives, and/or industry professionals who meet regularly with a company to provide in-depth feedback, guidance, and support for matters of tactical and strategic importance to a company. They are given considerable influence on the direction of products and services and are often compensated for their services.
One of the ongoing challenges of managing CABs is making certain that they don't become "rubber stamp" committees whose members sit and listen to predigested presentations without any real opportunity for substantive feedback. In other words, the amount of time you spend listening to your CAB should be far greater than the amount of time you spend talking to your CAB. Fortunately, Innovation Games are a powerful way to engage your CAB and generate fresh insights for youand for them.
Innovation Games breathe new life into existing CABs by helping your CAB members find creative and fun ways to express themselves. Instead of sitting through a boring set of PowerPoint presentations and discussions of strategy, CAB members playing Innovation Games are actively engaged in sharing their knowledge. They also provide a powerful way to safely experiment with the games. For example, you might try a different version of a game with your CAB before playing it with other customers. And you can focus quantitative market research based on the qualitative feedback you receive from the CAB.
Table 1.5 provides specific suggestions for games to try at your next CAB meeting.
No matter what game you play, keep the rest of the Innovation Game process the same. This should be relatively easy because you will likely have someone managing the planning function of the CAB meeting. To this you may need to add a greeter, a facilitator, a helper, observers, and an event photographer.
It is also important to share with your CAB the results of your report. You may want to consider a more open and direct approach in writing the report, including providing CAB members with access to observer notes. Finally, make certain that you provide a way for CAB members to provide feedback to youand other CAB memberson any reports that you send. Sometimes the conversations after the CAB meeting are even more important than the conversations at the CAB meeting because you and your CAB have had time to think more carefully about what was discussed.