Building market insight through employee 'guilds'

Written by in Experiments
- 2 min read

Today I started on one piece of a plan to transform my organisation.

My company has a problem in which we've never had good market insight. We haven't known our markets in detail, we don't keep track of our market performance, we don't talk to our customers. It sounds bad I know. I've built the organisation's analytics platforms from the ground up and I'm building a system of complete transparency of our markets, group performance; more data than you can shake a stick at.

The question is now that we can see our market position, which markets do you prioritise? How do we really get the market knowledge? The people upstairs wanted to form a top-down strategy, top markets, more priorities on top of priorities, more actions. The company was about ready to employ managers in becoming 'experts' in these priority markets to bring in market insight across the organisation.

What I think the company was forgetting was that all of this market and customer knowledge was always locked away with their employees. I just made a bit of it visible. My organisation has 30 or more science groups with different products, services, capabilities. However, these groups all have overlap in the markets they serve. They have relationships with customers, companies, and decades of knowledge about how everything works. They've never had a voice or support on how to make things better though. The question is how do we access that knowledge and why should our employees work with us?

Spotify's guild system sprang to my mind. What if, instead of giving a central manager dominion over building a market and telling all the groups to follow our lead, we instead formed communities of interest that spanned across groups, centred around markets. We could break down existing silos between groups who didn't know they had common interests, build organisational knowledge of our customers, encourage people to work together and come forward with new ideas on how we can improve our products.

I have the buy-in to give this a shot. I was hoping to ask the similarly linked community of rebels here:

- Do you have non-standard communities in your organisation like these?
- What would really make this idea radical, how could it be more interesting? How could these communities really change the organisation?
- Why might this not work?

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