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  • Danny

Milk The Cow Dry

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

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Kodak, Blockbuster, Nokia all became comfortable relying on their current products, services and experience. They became comfortable thinking their current offerings were enough to continue attracting and retaining the top talent in the market. This confidence stopped them from looking and asking:

  • What's coming next

  • What opportunities are we not tapping into

  • What are the little unknown players doing

Unfortunately, similar to the farmer below, the aha moment came when it was all too late i.e. when daisy the cow dries up or in this case when top talent is no longer interested in joining or even worse when their people slowly but surely start to leave in droves to that other company that's doing things differently, aka your competitor. Here's how to stay to stay ahead of the game by taking a leaf out the Apple and Bosch playbook on how to drive innovation while keeping your top talent and attracting new talent:

Mindset & Behaviours: The number of people I have conversations with almost daily around how to drive innovation in their Employee Experience is crazy. My first question is always ‘how much time have you invested in them to look at challenges differently’. I’ve spent 10+ years in Human Centred Design, Service Design, Experience Design and Product discovery, of course, I look at problems differently. I am not talking about new methods and tools. I am talking about driving innovative mindsets and behaviours before anything else. There are 1000’s of books on methods but without the foundation knowledge, it often leads to all the gear with no idea. These behaviours and mindsets can easily be picked up and more importantly taken away and applied in just a few days.

Spin up an Employee Innovation team: Currently I split my time between Knot while heading up Employee Innovation at my current organisation. One thing I have noticed is that when it comes to Employee Experience most don't see it as I do, which is a portfolio of Products, Services, Experiences, and Interactions. I have found once you start to see it as this, you start to look at areas such as Onboarding, Talent Attraction, Performance as products. This then provokes your thinking to challenge if you are just adding new features that may add a marginal gain, or if you are truly adding value to your people.

Evolution vs Revolution: There is some real value in looking at your accounting e.g., your resources, be it budget, time, effort etc. While you may not be able to cover everything overnight you could start small. Look at your allocation of budget for a product, then invest 80% of it into evolving your current BAU offering, that other 20% invest in Moo's (Moments of Opportunity), making some small future-focused bets on the product really stretch the thinking on it. At worst you lose 20% of your resourcing, but it’s not a loss as what you have gained is validation through experimentation on what won’t work. If you are clever with your accounting and honest with the business at the start nobody will feel any friction on the loss, as 80% of it is still making the product better.

Remember Evolution with the right team, mindset and capabilities can create something that often looks like revolution to others

  • iPhone

  • Netflix

  • Uber

These are all examples of evolutionary products, services, and experiences so evolution isn’t a bad thing. I wrote a little more about Evolution vs Revolution here

Structures and Measures: To drive real innovation, you would benefit by structuring and measuring the team differently from the core business. BAU is often measured on operational efficiency and no failure, while Innovation is often measured on failure through experimentation and how many new products have gone from problem to validated business model.

Focusing on the point above should be a priority for anyone looking to drive innovation in their employee experience. It will not only stop the busy milking the cow dry but also allow you to plan for whats coming next.

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