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Tapping the Experience of Your CAB Peers: A Conversation with Mike Gospe

Posted by Bill Lee on June 17, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Mike is the Customer Advisory Board (CAB) Practice leader at KickStart Alliance, author of Marketing Campaign Development a consultant to senior marketing executives, and an expert on meeting facilitation, having facilitated hundreds of CAB and other executive sessions over the last 20 years. Mike will be leading the Peer Exchange workshops at the upcoming CAB Exchange Summit in San Jose.

Q. Mike, the Peer Exchange Workshops are one of the primary tools we use at the CAB Exchange Summit to allow CAB practitioners to exchange ideas and best practices directly with each other. Can you give us an overview of how these sessions will work?

A. The Peer Exchange Workshop is an interactive session where CAB managers have a chance to share their experiences and best practices with their peers who may not be as experienced. The objective is to tap the vast expertise of these CAB managers and invite a structured dialog to explore and prioritize best practices, traps to avoid, and proven techniques to everyone's benefit.

Specifically, the Peer Exchange Workshop exercise has two parts. Part 1 will identify the topic areas that CAB managers would like most to discuss. For each topic area, we'll ask those CAB managers who have proven success and experience to group together to answer a few questions and then report their recommendations to the larger group.

Part 2 is an open discussion where all participants can ask questions and dialog further about these recommendations. The final output being a set of recommended tips and action items that can be immediately implemented.

Q. We'll identify specific issues to address at the workshops in a pre-event survey. In your experience working with CAB programs, what are some of the issues you expect that attendees will want to address?

A. Some of the most popular issues CAB managers wrestle with include:

How to best architect the CAB program so that it fits within the larger Voice-of-the-Customer initiative, and isn't viewed as an isolated stand-alone event, Examples of criteria used to select the proper customers to join the CAB, Tips for designing effective agendas that will engage customers properly and generate the insights you want, Knowing how to facilitate a CAB meeting yourself and when to engage a professional CAB manager/facilitator to ensure optimum results, and Best practices for sharing CAB insights with the rest of the organization.

Q. As an experienced facilitator, what's the key to keeping these sessions on track and productive?

A. The key is having a plan that will drive us to a specific outcome, in this case, the outcome is a set of actionable recommendations for each topic area we'll explore. Before we break the group into small teams, we'll agree upon the topic areas the CAB managers would like to explore. My colleagues and I will each facilitate a specific team, guiding the questions to be discussed per each topic. We'll also capture notes and feedback on a flip chart. By the end of the break out session, we'll ask one team representative to share the findings with the larger group for further discussion. We'll conclude by having an interactive discussion with the larger team.

Q. What were some of the more useful, surprising, or interesting results from the Peer Exchange Workshops at last year's Summit?

A. What impressed me most about last year's Peer Exchange Workshop was the breadth and depth of customer knowledge the CAB managers had. The cross pollinization of ideas, best practices, and knowledge was extensive. Real-time learning between customers, sponsors, and presenters was non-stop and the Peer Exchange Workshop continues to be a dynamic tool for aiding these discussions. There's no question that sessions like the Peer Exchange Workshop provide not only a platform for discussion, but a networking opportunity that will continue to benefit attendees long after the Summit concludes.

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