The CEO Conversation: Using Well-Known Companies to Drive Creativity and Collaboration

Scenario: You are in the middle of a sprint designing a new product or service. The energy and creativity have seemed to hit bottom after almost four hours of creating potential solutions. How do you get people back on their feet, reenergized, and to keep on generating possible solutions to your design challenge?

Answer: The CEO Conversation

The CEO conversation is a creative way to help teams and consumers look at solutions through the lens of other well-known organizations during the prototyping stage. I have done this activity with the names of Fortune 50 companies; the top 50 companies focused on sustainability, etc. The goal is to get people to think and give advice like a CEO.

For example, if you were to pretend to be the CEO of Amazon (Jeff Bezos), based on the characteristics of that company, what advice would he give you regarding a future product or service?  Mr. Bezos might talk to you about how to become the most consumer-centric company in the world, how to make doing business with you frictionless, how to build your logistics network to enable 1-day delivery, setting up the minimum steps to buy, AI supported, one-stop for everything, etc. as those are all characteristics of Amazon. Basically, how Amazon would approach this problem or challenge. Using companies that are well-known and widely respected can spark ideas around your product or service prototype.

An easy way to run this creative exercise it to do the following:

  1. Each person writes the name of a company they admire on a sheet of paper (or you identify one for each person and assign that company to them)
  2. Each person takes on the persona of the CEO of that company and uses their characteristics to provide feedback and input on their idea
  3. That person advises on your product or services as the CEO of XYZ Co., using the characteristics of that company
  4. CEOs rotates so that by the end, 10-12 CEOs have provided their input on your prototype that range across a number of characteristics and perspectives

When using it with customers, the key to this activity is to let them use a business they admire and know well. It doesn’t have to be a Fortune 50 company. It can be the owner of a bodega that gives families a line of credit because their car broke down, and they don’t get paid until Friday. It could be the Executive Director of a non-profit. Regardless, when people take on the persona of someone else, it’s easier to give advice and insights on your product and service.


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James Shupp




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