How to inspire and make way for innovation
The language you use can make all the difference in how your team approaches projects. When it comes to application development at The Weather Company, we've found that a simple language shift can improve the customer experience. Let me explain.
At The Weather Company, we have a unique process in place that encourages our teams to constantly get feedback from customers. It’s an agile process that empowers everyone to better understand and actively investigate pain points, as well as discover if solutions are valuable, usable, and feasible. This involves talking directly with customers on a regular, ongoing basis.
We give our teams the tools to do this effectively. For instance, they have access to testing sites where they can bring in panels and individual users to come look at our products. They’re also encouraged to go out to a Starbucks to put a product or a new feature in customers’ hands, just to observe how they react to it.
We haven’t perfected this by any means, but the process works best when the leadership team talks in verbs instead of nouns. Why? Because nouns are easy to check off on a to-do list, but they don’t necessary drive results. Verbs are actionable – they solve problems. We've also discovered that a focus on verbs naturally leads to a focus on the customer experience.
By tracking the outcome that we’re ultimately interested in and keeping the conversation focused on those micro-goals, it ultimately drives the behavior toward getting direct feedback from customers. In fact, often the only way to increase our odds of getting it right is by actually going out and talking to consumers.
There is a gravitational pull to latch onto a feature, and at some point in the process, you will shift your focus to the feature or product that will help you reach your outcome. But the process of speaking in verbs at the outset of a project supports a methodology of testing, changing and pivoting, then testing, changing and pivoting, and so on. It shifts the conversation so that everyone on the team is actively and creatively seeking out solutions to problems. And ultimately, the customers will win – and happy customers fuel healthy businesses.