BBD CEO Summit – McKendry, Bathgate, Balfour

Matt McKendry

Learned from Apple that the employee experience is as important as the customer experience, something that applies absolutely to consulting companies like Deloitte.

Learned from Stanford D School (design school) to move away from Powerpoint. Ironically Matt is using powerpoint to show pretty pictures during this talk.

Matt took some learnings back, and first tried to understand what the employee experience is like. They found that employees often felt they were kept in the dark, asked to trust the system, process and rules. Often they didn’t know what they were doing. Matt sees they are a training and education business with respect to employees, and these methods were mired in the past. They have moved from rules and checklists to experiences, using interior walls as canvas, asking what they are good and not so good at.

It’s still very early, but very encouraging to see a monster like Deloitte move into design thinking land. They are actually seeing productivity increases, and certainly are seeing a better employee environment.

Comvita’s David Bathgate

Comvita, which is led by a fellow B Tech alum, Brett Hewitt, went has been through the BBD process. Brett stood up at the 2010 BBD CEO conference and said he was going to appoint a designer, and David asked him for the job – which he got  They have and continue to achieve remarkable growth, with a CAGR over the last few years of 23%.

David’s first job was to go bring people out to meet customers and gain end user insights. They developed personas, understood their unmet needs and opportunities to capture them. They now have product ideas which they are turning into products.

Following the last summit and CEO tour they also knocked down some walls, created a design space and put more information on the walls in the spirit of show and don’t tell. This last point helps speed communication, gets ideas out early, promoting discussions early and often.

They have also tried to spread the notion of customer empathy, using a gift giving exercise build for the purpose. They put large posters up of representative core customers, along with data, and took videos from customer videos.

They largely did this on their own, and while he admits expert advice may have helped them do it better, the most important thing was that they did it. (I 10% agree).

His parting shot was that it’s a journey, and it’s about being better through changing the way they do things. They are seeing better results, shifting from 3 to 78 retail outlets moving from whlesale to retail, from 3% to 20% direct to consumer sales. The gross margin has also risen from 43% to 57%.

(Comvita was subject to a hostile takeover bid in the last year, a lowball offer which was rejected. I’m pretty sure shareholders will be very happy with future results.)

Icebreaker’s Tony Balfour

He went through the gift giving process at IDEO, creating ‘the best gift ever’ for someone. The session rapidly progressed to rapid prototyping, and his lesson was that anything can be prototyped. He uses examples from childhood where we turn anything (like a cardboard box) into anything else.

Prototyping is taking something out of your brain and putting it onto explainable form. It’s difficult to do so in traditional environments. Design is not a department, and shouldn’t be left to designers. Everyone can prototype.

Leaving design to designers is like leaving people to the HR department.

Pens post it notes, paper and iPhone are the main tools for Icebreaker. They use iPhone to take pictures and send around the world.

Icebreaker does 40% of their store business from their compact in store base units. This came from a pencil drawing prototype. As did (from prototype)  a new tagline greeting customers in each store “Welcome to Icebreaker – we believe nature is better than plastic”

Icebreaker uses two team for prototyping – a building team and a feedback team. They use a bitch list (situation analysis) to capture issues, turned into a from/to list to make it actionable. They then draw up an objective or intention that explains what they are trying to do, and they work hard on word-smithing to get the meaning correct. Next are visual models, which seems to mean diagrams on a whiteboard. Project management is the final step.

Golden rules are 1: get the right view, before you choose the right way; 2: prototype like you are right, listen like you are wrong 3: Use speed to reduce attachment, and 80/20.

They even used this to design their new ERP system, in-store customer journeys, as well as launches, website, reporting tool and product development and the Christmas party.

A fantastic series of talks – BBD in action and delivering change and profits.


Published by Lance Wiggs