20 July 2012

The unreasonable boss - when executive solutions become design constraints

An acquaintance of mine recently complained that her new boss just didn't listen. She was recently hired by a large sports wear chain to manage their social media and promotional events in advance of their entering new markets and attracting new customer segments.

The owner, it seemed, was so attached to his ideas of how to promote because of his past successes that he could not comprehend that the new customers he wished to attract needed to be approached differently. His most recent demand was that because his children liked popcorn, he told the marketing team to rent an old-fashion popcorn cart for the product booth at a street fair in 100°F weather.

image of an old fashioned popocorn machine (source: wikipedia)

What bothered my acquaintance most, however, was that her direct boss and other managers were afraid to challenge the owner's positions. Whatever he demanded, he got.

QFD has some solutions to such a scenario. Whether it is the boss or the customer, proposed solutions need to be translated back into functional requirements, and then into solution-independent needs, so that better solutions can be examined to achieve those needs.

In the sports wear store example, the popcorn is a solution to what problem or need? Can we analyze for the owner the advantages and disadvantages of popcorn.

For example:
Popcorn's aroma attracts attention. Functional requirement: Attract attention. Need: Our booth stands out in a crowded event. What other ways can we stand out on a hot day? How about misting fans? Handing out folding fans?
Popcorn is something kids love to eat. Functional requirement: Distract kids. Need: Keep kids entertained while mom looks at our sports wear. How else can we entertain kids on a hot day? How about water guns?
Popcorn from an old-fashioned cart shows we are traditional and have been here a long time, and will continue to be here a long time in the future. Functional requirements: Show we are your neighbors and a trusted part of your community. Need: We are a trusted place to shop. How else can we build trust in this new market segment? How about our brands, satisfaction guarantees, our current customers who are respected in the community?
Food sales require a city license, trained operators, food handling protocols. This is a constraint that makes it expensive and time consuming. Our focus is to sell sports wear, and the popcorn could be a distraction.
Popcorn oil can damage our sample products. Kids and adults eating the popcorn and then touching the products will leave fingerprints and stains that will make our samples unattractive and discourage potential shoppers. This is another negative.
If you have attended a QFD Green Belt® course, you remember that this solution-to-need translation is the job of the Customer Voice table and that the analysis of solution constraints is the job of the Maximum Value table.

Both are new tools  in Modern Blitz QFD®. These are core tools in the QFD Green Belt® Course offered in St. Augustine on October 21-November 1, 2012.

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