cross-functional collaboration @ Groupon 

Co-leading with a researcher partner, we brought together sales, account management, engineering, product management, and design in a day long workshop focused on finding a shared understanding of small business owners through research and insights discovery.

 
Multiple teams discussing what they discovered during their field visits to local small businesses.

Multiple teams discussing what they discovered during their field visits to local small businesses.

the goal

In a very large company, bring together people from key organizations to foster team building, mutual respect, and a shared understanding of their customers. A secondary goal was to give account management and sales teams the tools to be front-line information gatherers for the research team because they could spend more time speaking with customers than anyone else.  

Workshop co-lead Elena demoing how to observe and ask probing, unbiased questions of a merchant.

Workshop co-lead Elena demoing how to observe and ask probing, unbiased questions of a merchant.

 

learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate listening/observation skills to get the most from research participants
  • Design & use appropriate interview techniques to prevent biased outcomes
  • Take another person's point of view to build empathy and analyze their behaviors
  • Translate observations into actionable insights for real-world projects
 
Teams used the affinity diagram method to draw insights from their field visit notes.

Teams used the affinity diagram method to draw insights from their field visit notes.

 

insights discovery

Once the teams returned from their field visits, they used the affinity diagram method to organize their notes into ten themes. Examples of the themes were: tools & points of sale systems, customer service, brand & identity, and environments. The emerging themes triggered "ah-ha" moments for the attendees as they realized their customers were not always who they thought they were.

A photo taken during field research visits by one of the workshop participants.

 

research field trip

Pairs of workshop attendees first came up with a set of research questions they wanted to investigate during field visits. Once we reviewed each set of questions, the teams spent several hours visiting local small business owners to make observations and ask questions.

 
People from diverse backgrounds and different parts of the organization left the workshop with a shared empathetic understanding of their customers.

People from diverse backgrounds and different parts of the organization left the workshop with a shared empathetic understanding of their customers.

 

discussion

We ended the workshop with an open discussion. The attendees focused on further refining the insights they discovered through the affinity diagram exercise, and discussed ways to carry the insights into their daily work. They also spent time talking about how each of their functions interacted with the customers in different ways, and how they could provide more impactful feedback to each other.

measuring success

Managers for sales, account management, engineering, and product management who attended the workshop were so deeply impacted by the empathy they gained for our customers and each other that they requested workshops for their teams. We led several more workshops with a variety of teams across the company.