What Kitchen Faucet Design Can Teach You About Employee Experience Innovation

Watching TV the other night I happened to catch a commercial* for Delta faucets with “Shield Spray Technology.” Now you might be wondering what this could possibly have to do with employee experience innovation, but hang in there with me and you’ll see.

Now I’ve been a homeowner for all my adult life and my Dad and brothers were in the plumbing trade. I know a thing or two about faucets, but this just blew my mind. A faucet that can protect me from gross, dirty dishwater splashing back on my clothes? Genius! Where has this innovation been all my life? Personally, I would have guessed that the hands-free faucet would have been the pinnacle of faucet design -- I mean how much can you really do with water that comes out of a spout? Yet here Delta was, taking things to the next level.

My initial excitement over this “dish-doing discovery” was of course immediately forgotten once I went back to watching Alone, but the thought of it didn’t leave my mind completely. In fact, I found myself marveling over it again a few days later, especially in relation to the Gartner Digital Workplace Summit I attended a few months ago. While that event was a generally great venue for tips on how to get the employee experience right, one session in particular stood out to me in relation to the whole faucet technology thing.

In the keynote delivered by Leigh McMullen and Helen Poitevin, the concept of sneakers was used to drive home the transformative power technology and innovation can have on even seemingly straightforward experiences.

Helen’s shoes - plain green Converse sneakers - fulfilled the basic requirements she expected of them, i.e. they protected her feet from the ground. Leigh’s kicks, on the other hand, were the space-age Nike HyperAdapt. They not only protected his feet, they were a fully digital, self-lacing shoe that intuitively adjusted to the shape of his foot, paired with his mobile devices and provided him with tons of data on movement and health metrics.

And how is that even moderately relevant – weren’t we just talking about faucets? Let me explain…. Leigh’s fancy HyperAdapts make you rethink what shoes could be, just as the Delta Shield Spray faucet raises your expectations about what a faucet can do. They don’t just fulfill their basic obligations with ho-hum indifference, they get you excited because they go beyond the norm and redefine a category you didn’t even think could be redefined.

That’s exactly the type of mind set organizations need to adopt as they consider the employee experience they deliver. How much better and easier could you make the lives of your employees if you cast aside the notions of “possible” and “expected” and instead innovated to create the best experience possible? What kinds of “wow” moments could you create for your employees – and how much could that kind of thinking transform your business?

It’s an issue worth thinking about…..

*I know, I know – who watches commercials anymore? We forgot we were watching something on the DVR again so didn’t fast-forward…