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Small Ideas Part 3: The Unsung Hero of Employee Engagement

The product team at SoapBox is made up of the entire company. We all have a hand in shaping the future of SoapBox and the product that we bring to market. From marketing to sales, to customer success, we all leverage the SoapBox platform internally to share ideas and feedback on how to iterate and improve the product. Features and updates are voted on by everyone and the best ideas get built and go into production. We all know the product capabilities inside out and backwards.

This post is the third of a four-part series focusing on the value of small ideas that make a big impact in the workplace. 

Since establishing our SoapBox platform internally, we’ve made over 56 product enhancements that incorporated community feedback. In fact, 70 percent of the ideas shared on our SoapBox platform are around product improvements. We all take ownership over product success.

In my last post, I discussed the story of how we leverage small ideas at SoapBox to improve daily operations. Today, I want to discuss an idea shared on our SoapBox that made a lasting impression on current and potential customers.

The story of notification center

On December 1, 2014, our Chief Technology Officer Graham McCarthy shared an idea on our SoapBox about baking a notification center into the product. This idea combined the concepts behind three other ideas from different authors that were starting to generate some traction. I sat down with Graham to discuss the story of this idea and the impact it had on the usability of the product.

Elana: How did you come up with the idea for the notification center? What was the inspiration?

Graham: Well, we knew we wanted to create a notification center, but it was one of many great additions we wanted to make to the platform.

Before the notification centre, you would receive emails when community members engaged with your idea, prompting you to revisit the platform. But if you missed one of these emails, you wouldn’t know what activities your colleagues were doing. The notification centre would tell you exactly what has happened since the last time you signed in, and would increase employee engagement.

So, I know this type of feature was important, however, what I needed was a sense of priority and perspective from the teams. I wanted the teams to start a conversation around their concerns and compare this feature against some of the other features we were thinking of doing. For example, the engineering teams weighted this feature against some technical debt projects that wanted to address and raised a few concerns about potential scalability issues; while the marketing teams were looking at this feature from a product/market fit perspective and were prioritizing it against the analytics suite we were thinking of rolling out around the same time.
Notification Centre 1

Elana: What happened when you posted the idea?

Graham: So, I shared a bunch of product improvement ideas on SoapBox to determine which updates and features we should prioritize in 2015. This particular idea received a lot of support quickly. As the head of product, it’s sometimes hard to know which of the features will have the biggest impact, so I leverage the power of the SoapBox platform as a way to collaborate with my entire organization to discover a greater unbiased priority.

What was really interesting for me was that once I posted the idea, it was no longer mine. It became the idea of everyone who engaged with it. It then became bigger than just me, it became the idea of 30 people.

Screen grab of Notification Center

Screen grab of Notification Center

Elana: What impact do you think your idea has had?

Graham:  Adding this idea (and the other product ones), I was able to get people thinking about this idea in terms of the bigger picture of what we are trying to achieve. I was also able to be transparent with my product stewardship and give visibility into the tradeoffs that have to be made.

Also, having the feature built was great for our WAU/MAU (Weekly Active Users / Monthly Active Users). It was one of the features that has helped us to increase our employee engagement numbers.



Harness the power of employee ideas.