Coming out of Customer Advisory Council meetings, there is generally a list of action items, and areas identified for further exploration. There are many ways to follow through, but one vehicle is invaluable when it comes to keeping engagement up while moving topics forward – the working group.
A working group provides opportunity for a subgroup of the Council (and potentially their teams) to explore new opportunities, further define an existing offering, co-create, etc. Working groups take place outside the cadence of regular Council meetings, so they present an ideal tool to keep momentum going in between full Council sessions.
There may be times when important topics bubble up during a session, but they need to be advanced further before appearing on the next Council agenda. Working groups offer a great way to dig in on a single topic with a smaller audience and subject matter experts to incubate thinking before bringing it back to the Council. Council members are also afforded the opportunity to share their deep knowledge and expertise, and explore best practices and lessons learned with one another.
Not only do working groups deepen topic areas, but they can also lead to real, tangible outcomes and assets. In our experience with working groups, we have seen the creation of new roles to address a strategic gap; the development of frameworks and models; and whitepapers detailing the problem statement and how the group’s thinking advanced it.
Working groups also help to expand the Council ecosystem as members may hand off participation to colleagues who are experts in the domain at hand. By widening the aperture on collaboration, diverse perspectives are brought in and at the same time, the value of the Council is experienced by more individuals.
Working groups take time and effort and must be focused in their purpose, timeframe and outcomes. They don’t just mysteriously happen, but the rewards they provide can be significant.