As Curious Observers, our design team spends ample time in developing our product plan each year. Through customer roundtables, field travel or virtual feedback sessions, to understanding what products are having the most success in the market, there are many insights gathered and considered throughout the year to ensure that future products are aligned with market needs.
For the past three years, Vice President of Creative + Design Shannon Cochran has led her team in an all day, immeservie product GAP meeting. During their time together, our design team would share their research on market needs, customer feedback received, and other insights gathered to help inform the product plan for the upcoming year.
With 2020 providing a new set of challenges and opportunities for engagement, the GAP experience took on a whole new format this year. Utilizing the virtual collaborative platform Miro, Shannon conducted a fully online experience which she expanded to include account managers, RVPs, marketing, and the manufacturing team, which all provided entirely new insight into product and innovation needs.
Mid Atlantic Regional Vice President Angie Gilp had this to share: "The GAP meeting this year was extremely motivating and inspiring. As an RVP, seeing how our brand continues to be innovative and creative - and not allowing COVID to stop us or slow us down - was amazing. The format of the meeting and utilization of Miro is a testament to our continued thirst for growth, and highlights that by thinking differently and incorporating new technologies even furthers our opportunities for success in the future. Instead of a mostly internal event, this year's experience provided the opportunity for RVPs, account managers and manufacturing to provide insights which helped to round out the overall experience and ultimate path forward."
Instead of a full, one-day event, the group of 28 participants were divided into four teams - a mix of designers, manufacturing, sales and marketing - for a two week task of compiling their notes, research and insights into the online, collaborative platform. Each team identified their top three product or innovation needs, including the story behind the need which had to be supported by specific observations such as customer feedback, competitive knowledge, innovation needs, or marketing inspiration, and then shared with the larger group for discussion.
Because there was such intentionality to include specific examples and research, the group was able to make an informed selection of the top four ideas which will be included into the product plan for 2021.
"It was inspiring to be part of the process, and got me excited about something that was not tangible like a sale," said Minneapolis account manager Michele Gears. "As an account manager, there are often specific things I want - i.e. a 12 mil non wood look or a unit carpet tile. But being part of the GAP meeting opened my mind to what the overall needs are of our brand. It felt so good to use my creativity and be involved and engaged with the process. It made me excited about who we are as a company, and how being curious observers influences so much of what we do."
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