Do You Want Staid Customer Advisory Boards or Incubators for Innovation?


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We’d like you to raise the bar for your Customer Advisory Boards in 2014. If you already have ongoing CABs, it’s time to morph them into strategic think tanks for your internal lean start up activities. If you don’t have a CAB underway, start thinking about setting one up with this new angle. Your customers will love it! Your company will profit.

Lean Start Up is all the rage these days—in big companies and small ones. Eric Ries (who coined the term and launched the lean startup movement) provides a great framework for customer-driven development in which you learn what customers truly value by throwing it out there, failing fast, and learning from what works and what doesn’t. But how do you identify the right stuff to feed to your lean start up teams?

Customers Scenario Mapping SessionOur recommendation: use customer advisors to point the way. If you have the right customers engaged in strategic discussions with your executive team, and you listen deeply while they talk among themselves about what they need to do and what steps they currently have to do to get things done, and where the frustrations occur, you’ll quickly discover the unmet needs that are truly valuable to them. If you then take these top customer priorities and use them to fuel your lean start up initiatives, your customer advisors will become consultants and advocates, ensuring that your implementation team is taking into account the real-world context in which these customers live and breathe.

So stop thinking about Customer Advisory Boards as a relationship-building activity, and think about them as incubators for innovation.

Identifying the RIGHT Customers for CABs
You Want Customers with Insights and Passion for the “Jobs” They Do (Not for Your Brand)
By By Patricia B. Seybold, CEO, Patricia Seybold Group, January 30, 2014

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patricia Seybold
With 30 years of experience consulting to customer-centric executives in technology-aggressive businesses across many industries, Patricia Seybold is a visionary thought leader with the unique ability to spot the impact that technology enablement and customer behavior will have on business trends very early. Seybold provides customer-centric executives within Fortune 1 companies with strategic insights, technology guidance, and best practices.


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