In the 2018 Dreamforce workshop “Question and Reframe to Uncover Unseen Opportunities," session leaders Bruce Jang, Salesforce innovation director, and Salesforce's Yi Leng Lee and Justine McLoughlin laid out their goals: Participants were going to see that they could learn to work differently, that there is value in questioning and reframing, and that they could do it with their team.
The workshop participants explored six principles that can help businesses find significant value in challenging the status quo:
- see and experience
- dimension and diagram
- question and reframe
- imagine and model
- test and shape
- pitch and commit
The main obstacle to innovating by challenging the status quo, though, is the fact that humans are just not wired to question things that way. We work with mental models and internal information structures of how things should be based on how they are, the presenters said, and organizations are set up to work in ways that support our mental models. Furthermore, we're trained to find quick solutions to a problem, which is easier if we work within our existing information structures.
The meat of the workshop was an exercise designed to let participants explore the process of questioning their assumptions. They would start by identifying a business problem, then identify the assumptions that underlay the problem, examine the impact of those assumptions and use that to shift their perspective to find a solution.
The participants were divided into groups, and each group was assigned an industry with an iffy reputation with consumers: cable TV, banking or hospitals. They were given sticky notes and whiteboards with which to brainstorm, first exploring the problems and constraints by asking, “What are 10 things you would never hear (blank) say about (blank)?" They moved on to look at the industry's assumptions that the answers to the first question might represent; then to examine the possible impact of those assumptions by asking, “What vulnerabilities result from this?" Finally, they asked, “How might we reimagine this?"
The cable TV group, for example, settled mostly on poor customer service as the problem (“You would never hear customers say they look forward to calling their provider," for example). They identified possible assumptions underlying the poor service, such as “customers should be happy with what we give them" and “the customer has no place else to go but us." They identified the potential rise of competitors and decisions to cut the cord as potential impacts of those assumptions. Finally, they proposed letting customers schedule their own service calls and providing more a la carte programming packages as possible solutions.
The session closed with the leaders describing an example of how this approach had worked in another industry: health care. The group questioned their assumptions about doctor visits and rethought their relationship to their customers. The result was that now they think of customers as “members" rather than “patients," their providers are “guides" rather than “experts," and appointments are available on-demand rather than having to be strictly scheduled.