Getting Wagile with our customers as we plan the Widen Summit

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Widen Summit 2014 at the Overture Center

As we approach the Widen Summit, to be held October 19-21, here in Madison, we are heavily entrenched in the process of organizing the best lineup of breakout sessions, keynotes, roundtables and activities that we can muster. The process of choosing the best topics, focus points and activities is complicated and starts with many conversations, customer issues we’ve worked on and industry problems and trends we think are the most relevant to our customers.

As Widen’s company culture has adopted the principles of agility in all areas of our business, we thought it was probably best that we take a step back before digging too deep into Summit session planning to seek feedback from our most valuable source: our customers.

The Agile Marketing Manifesto is comprised of seven pretty basic principles to follow, and when you read them, they make good common sense.

1. Validated learning over opinions and convention
2. Customer-focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy
3. Adaptive and iterative campaigns over big-bang campaigns
4. The process of customer discovery over static prediction
5. Flexible vs. rigid planning
6. Responding to change over following a plan
7. Many small experiments over a few large bets

Although the principles feel like common sense, while reading them directly, it’s interesting to see how often we humans go back into old habits of thinking and processes when not diligently focused on new process. If we aren’t continuously acting and reacting through the lens of Agile, we aren’t being Agile. Or at Widen, we actually call it Wagile (if you don’t know, that’s Widen + Agile).

It was Thursday morning last week when we invited four local Wisconsin customers to our office to spend a few hours to providing feedback on each session topic being offered at this year’s Summit. Each session owner pitched their session topic, key takeaways and pointed out what actionable items attendees would be able to bring back to their operations.

As I was quietly taking notes and making sure our customers didn’t need a coffee or water refill, it became immediately clear how important it is to involve our customers with this type of planning. We scrapped one session entirely and significantly altered several more. All in all, each session owner left the meeting with a clear understanding of what they need to do next to create and deliver the most impactful session possible at the Widen Summit. Over the span of four hours, there wasn’t one session topic that didn’t pivot or change in some way, and even beyond that, the conversations that ensued during the session were invaluable.

We learned pain points, we learned frustrations, we learned that our customers like really nice looking dashboards (who doesn’t?). We also learned that there are some fundamental topics that we need to cover at the Summit and that we need to cover them again and again. We learned that our customers are funny, intelligent, interesting people who participate in cool things, like triathlons, and they like to travel to interesting places. They also appreciate that Widen has great coffee!
 
Since the mission of the Widen Summit is to help, teach, connect and empower our customers to become better DAM users, marketers, leaders and people in general, incorporating our customers into the planning process from the beginning was undoubtedly the right thing to do. Well, it’s the Wagile thing to do, and if we at Widen are Agile, we need to continue to eat our own dog food.

Stay tuned for more posts offering an extended preview of all the sessions coming soon!

If you have any ideas on how to improve the Widen Summit experience, we’d love to hear it! 

Learn more and register to attend the #WidenSummit at www.WidenSummit.com.

Topics: Culture & Company

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