New York City, three weeks later

What Josh didn’t know was that Martin had been working with the team on the ideas they had listed during the brainstorm. Martin had asked him to join them thirty minutes later than initially agreed so that the team could prepare a few matters prior to his arrival.

All team members had been working in their own way on one or two ideas from the previous brainstorm. When Josh entered the room the team was pumped up and ready to share their ideas.

Shopping could/should become more fun

Angie, the youngest salesperson who had recently joined the team, shared some very creative ideas on how to make shopping more fun. She and her boyfriend had worked on a rough sketch with a new store layout. Angie suggested dividing the store into five different zones: Fiction, Travel & Leisure, Kids, Home & Hobby, and Business. The exact divisions needed to be discussed, Angie said, but she suggested creating a completely different ambiance for each section, with different décor, design, music, scent, etc.

Josh was deeply moved by Angie’s initiatives and creative ideas. And realized that the way Angie had set things up, a relatively small investment, would already make a substantial difference.

Shopping should become less about shopping

Joanne had taken Josh’s idea to rebrand the store to ‘Books&More’ and came up with suggestions about what ‘More’ could look like. She suggested buying a good Nespresso machine and placing it on the mezzanine level. Only customers who were browsing would detect it, she explained. “And if we could add just a few small round tables and a handful of chairs like on a typical Village terrace, and provide a few free newspapers and magazines, customers would really have more than just books.” Joanne also suggested installing a charging point for cell phones to be used while enjoying coffee or exploring the store.

Josh loved this idea too and said, “We could also provide a few tablets.” The team had a lengthy discussion about other potential items they could sell in the store, but all agreed it should remain primarily a bookstore.

Turn our customers into guests

Providing coffee and tea on the mezzanine t perfectly with the idea of turning customers into guests, but Martin suggested they could also stop talking about customers, and instead start to really see and treat people as guests. “If we see our work as serving guests,” Martin explained, “we will become more pro-active, more inviting, and more entertaining.”

Give customers/guests a good reason to visit instead of buying online

Liz, one of the more senior team members, had reached out to one of her friends, Joseph Moore, who happened to be a popular author. Being a very good friend, Liz had asked him to join them during their second pow wow. After being introduced, Joseph volunteered to do workshops related to his new book on purposeful leadership.

Josh immediately thought how cool it would be to have books brought to life in his own store. He said, “What a great idea! We can clear the second oor for this purpose. I am sure we can find a different place for the boxes we have stored there now…” Angie and Joanne immediately suggested other activities that could be planned in the store, like afternoons of reading and/or writing classes for kids. Martin also knew a few writers that might step in, and within minutes they already had a potential calendar of events.

Different themes in different periods

Adrian, who worked a few hours per week suggested a number of themes, which could work well within the four zones in the store. He suggested that working with the four seasons would be fun. “Not that we need to buy different books for different seasons in each of the zones. We can change our decors and merchandise and highlight different books in every season,” Adrian explained. “And of course, we can also work with themes like sports, hobbies, or cooking. In fact, I talked about this with my wife who is a chef and she suggested it might be cool to arrange events during which we cook from one or more specific cookbooks. What would you think of that?”
“I simply love that idea,” Josh responded. “We could even invite clients for cooking courses… lovely!”

Focus on people and experience (less on books and process)

Quote - In Cases of True Empowerment Your Team Will Own The ExperienceThe team came up with several other suggestions and Josh found the intense participation by his team really touching. He just couldn’t believe how many ideas were developed within just a three weeks. After Martin brought in the well-deserved drinks and bites, Josh thanked the team for their incredible efforts.

That evening he shared what had happened with Marcia. He still couldn’t believe it. Joseph had explained to him a little more about his book on the way out. Josh realized he had just experienced a flavor of the power of social innovation, proving the main insight he had gained from Joseph: In Cases of True Empowerment Your Team Will Own The Experience!

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