A new book about innovation is structured around a central question, which the author (Michael Schrage) calls the Ask. The central question (and the title of the book): Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become?
An article on FastCompany.com today by Schrage takes a closer look at this question, noting that it is the ask that differentiates innovators and how they approach their customers. The point, in a nutshell:
Successful innovators don’t just ask customers and clients to do something different; they ask them to become someone different.
To illustrate, the author calls out some contemporary examples:
Facebook asks its users to become more open and sharing with their personal information, even if they might be less extroverted in real life. Amazon turned shoppers into information-rich consumers who could share real-time data and reviews, cross-check prices, and weigh algorithmic recommendations on their paths to online purchase. Who shops now without doing at least some digital comparisons of price and performance?
The author directs particular attention to Google, noting that Google's search technology effectively turned its users into both partners and collaborators, enabling the company to harness and act on their collective intelligence to deliver a better search experience. An investment in customer capabilities that ultimately produces benefits for the company and the customers. (And yes, I've read In The Plexand am cognizant of the darker flip side of this "equation", but let's just set that aside for the moment.)
And so, I couldn't help but wonder...
What if we looked at employee rewards in this way? What if, instead of using rewards to drive employees to do things differently, we created plans that enticed them to become someone different - different in a way that would be beneficial to the employees themselves as well as the company?
Where might a mindshift like this take us? If we changed our "ask", would it impact the programs we design and put in place?
Just some Friday afternoon musings...
Creative Commons image "question mark" by marco belucci