What’s the Problem with CABs? Too Little Listening; Too Many Presentations!

Posted Friday, April 4, 2014 in Other by Patricia Seybold

What if you had a Customer Advisory Board meeting in which PowerPoint presentations were banned? What if your executives and product managers spent most of the first day listening deeply to their customers talk among themselves about how they do their jobs and comparing notes about the strategic issues they’re grappling with in their respective industries?

Customer_advisory_board_meetingWhat if, instead of sitting through your product managers’ roadmap presentations and being expected to react to them, your customers presented their roadmaps and asked their colleagues for advice? What if those customers—incredibly busy high-level decision-makers and strategic thinkers—began looking forward to your semi-annual CAB meetings as a valuable opportunity to lift themselves up out of day-to-day operations and to think strategically about their own business by learning about their peers’ strategies and challenges.

Years ago, Skip Walter, who was then a distinguished fellow at Digital Equipment Corporation, taught me the power of “second attention.” When you’re focusing on someone else’s problems, your mind is free to make new connections that will result in amazing insights about your own thorny issues, he explained. I’ve taken that advice to heart and used it many times to empower a group of smart people in a room to do (at least) two things simultaneously: 1) Listen deeply to someone else’s challenge and give them advice, 2) Mull over your own situation in the background and gain new perspectives and insight. That, in my opinion, should be the MAIN focus of any Customer Advisory Board session.

Here is Ronni Marshak’s “How To” about how to get your next CAB off on the right foot.

Leading an “Issues and Vision” Discussion with CAB Participants
Tips for Gaining a Lot of Customer Context in a Short Time
By Ronni T. Marshak, EVP & Sr. Consultant, and Patricia B. Seybold. CEO & Sr. Consultant, April 3, 2014


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