In our recruitment process, we looked for mindsets that would thrive in this setting. We made sure to be very aware of ‘soft’ factors, like personality or culture-fit, as much as the skills or experience on someone’s CV. This process became easier over the course of the Lab as we were adding to an established team.
How did the Lab work with customers and what was their feedback?
Collaboration with customers was central to our approach, we needed their co-operation and feedback to inform how we progressed. Customers were wary of incumbent suppliers and it was part of our role to continually demonstrate value and show them how collaborating would unlock value for everyone.
With this in mind, we designed every touchpoint the customers would come across in engaging with us, from the first meeting right through to collaborating and going live. And it worked - customers noticed the added value in their experience with our client and the relationship changed from being distinctly ‘supplier and customer’ to more of an equal relationship focused on solving common business challenges.
How did the Lab interact with the core business?
We interacted with the core business in three ways: firstly, with senior leadership; then, with client services teams who connected us with the customers, and; finally, with technical teams who were supporting us with what we were building. We also were part of the internal messaging, through conferences, newsletters and events we helped share what the lab would mean for the future of the whole business.
What impact do you think that the Lab had on the team, the client’s organisation and their customers?
I think the impact on the team was profound, both at an individual and team leveI. For some, this came through the intensity of the experience and self-awareness/collaboration programmes, for others it was through speaking directly with consumers and experiences the highs and low of ‘learning by doing.’
In terms of our client, I think the Lab helped them to empathise and connect better with their customers. Also, by collaborating with customers and partners, the Lab uncovered product and business development opportunities that would have remained hidden otherwise.
Finally, I think that the end-customers felt the benefit of our expertise on consumer behaviours and in analogous markets, as it inspired new thinking about potential opportunities. Our clients tend to know their industry inside out, but as markets converge, we help our clients to see the broader opportunities that come with a more holistic perspective on consumers.
What would you like the legacy of the Lab to be?
I’d like the legacy of the Lab to be that we took on a very significant challenge, found a creative and innovative way to overcome it, and delivered valuable outcomes at both and individual and organisational level. Ultimately, we showed the value in collaborating with all of our client’s stakeholders and we now hope our client gets the reward by ending up with some really sizeable opportunities and a leading role in their future of their market.
What are your major lessons from setting up and running a lab that you would share with anyone about to embark upon the same journey?
There’s quite a lot! Firstly, I would say that a Lab is not a solution to every business challenge. It only works for certain cases, so you need to spend time identifying what the challenge is and evaluating its opportunities before committing to building a Lab. Secondly, I think the recruitment process is instrumental to a Lab’s success.