The Member Roundtable is a staple of Customer Advisory Board meetings.  It’s a fast and efficient way to hear from members at the beginning of the meeting.  Typically, this format reinforces points of view that were expressed in advance interviews that shaped the customer-driven agenda.  Now all the attendees have the benefit of hearing them.  This dialogue creates innumerable segues for the sponsoring company to tap for their presentations later in the day.

Use a charrette instead of a round robin at your Client Advisory Council meeting

To spark even more customer engagement from the start and unlock customer collaboration on big market or design issues, consider using a charrette instead of a round robin.  First, what is a charrette?  Urban Dictionary defines charrette as a “little cart.”  The term appeared in the late 1800’s and refereed to Architecture students at the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts in Paris who needed to rush their designs to their instructors.  Students placed their drawings on a cart which was called a charette.  Later the word broadened in meaning and came to describe any intense, short-term design project.  Today the word is used by the architectural and design community at large to describe any intense, on-the-spot design effort.  The technique is heavily used by state or community planning organizations to capture public opinion.

How do you execute a charrette at your meeting?

At your customer advisory board meeting, break the group into teams – 2 or 3 max.  Based on the advance interviews, identify 3 different themes and add a condition statement for each group to explore such as the set below.

  • Doing more with less is the new normal
  • Cybersecurity is permeating all silos in the organization
  • Too many trucks are driving to the same retailer

Based on the relevant themes, the sponsoring company displays three alternative approaches on flip charts that might address the challenge.  Before any discussion, members write their top challenge on a colored card and place it on a 4th flip chart for Top Challenges.  Additionally, each member posts a thumbs-up or thumbs-down comment card on the alternative approaches.  Once all cards, are posted, now the conversation begins.

Leverage the charrette to hear from members early on

Jumpstarting the outside-in perspective at the outset of the meeting is a win-win for members as they want to be heard early and often.  The discussion will cover the same ground as the round-robin style, but the takeaways have more focus.  That means a clearer, cogent point of view is surfaced earlier in the meeting.  And, that will enable a deeper dive during the balance of the meeting as the customer advisory board collaborates on the various topics for your agenda.

Try a charrette or other brainstorming techniques to ensure you are building reciprocal value that can be leveraged for and by the customer, as well as your business.

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