A short three weeks ago, BetterWorks had huge news to share…

“As of today, BetterWorks has become the very first company to offer a comprehensive business operating system for the modern enterprise.”

— Kris Duggan, BetterWorks CEO

Our new performance development™ and strategic planning modules are game-changers. Now, combine them with our existing collaborative goals platform and things get really interesting. Needless to say, our amazing, current customers are thrilled about these innovations.

Most would think that some rest and relaxation might be in order, but not here at BetterWorks. Our team understands that speed is everything, so our hard work has continued.


We’ve had our eye on the “Social Employee Recognition Systems” space for some time now. It is crowded and competitive, but has no clear winners. Now, that is all about to change. Today, we are announcing a new, and incredibly exciting addition our product: the BetterWorks Recognition Service.

The BetterWorks Recognition Service offers individual employees opportunities to recognize their co-workers in a meaningful way. Too often, recognition products reward employees with material rewards that can cheapen accomplishments and negatively impact the intrinsic motivation of top performers. Because of this, employees are hesitant to give out recognition, and the product’s inevitably gather dust. The BetterWorks Recognition Service addresses these fundamental issues.

“We need to go physical”

Recognition has been a notoriously tough nut to crack. We felt like we had turned over every stone, with no promising solution. Inspiration came in a recent board meeting. “We say that we’ve turned over every stone,” began BetterWorks board member Bing Gordon, “…but have we physically turned over the stones??” The rest of the board, puzzled, waited for him to continue: “We need to go physical! Like Amazon book stores!” The room swallowed a collective breath, and then the epiphany hit.

Bing was right: physical is the new black. The signs were all around us:

  • Amazon opened a store in Seattle, and had plans to open a store in San Diego (side note: I was personally surprised to learn San Diego is an actual city. Thought it was only a fictional location for the first Anchorman.)
  • Lyft partnered with Ammunition, a leading industrial design shop, to create a physical, glowing mustache0*UHz_Y9BlFSQXMd7p

    “With the design of Glowstache, our goal was to evolve the fun symbol into an extra-useful tool for meeting the needs of Lyft drivers and passengers” — Ammunition

  • Apple owned stores right under our noses, and had been selling physical goods inside of those stores
  • Microsoft appeared to be leasing leftover Apple stores for an art exhibit celebrating “the right angle.” Highly recommend touring it. Some of the installations were interactive.
  • Soul Cycle, a lifestyle movement (which you obviously can’t touch), seemed to be making most of it’s revenue on merchandise (which you can touch!)

Ciara, our Head of Product, put it best:

It’s like everyone is listening to Olivia Newton-John… BUT WITHOUT ME!— Ciara

The Recognition Service Design Process

We needed a rapid deep-dive in order to think outside the box as we explored the white-space for this strategic paradigm pivot. In addition to all of that, we also needed to design the Recognition Service. Since time was of the essence, we immediately began a design sprint. During this sprint, we gathered requirements, brainstormed, prototyped, and got our prototypes in front of possible customers.

Requirements + Brainstorming

These upfront steps in the design sprint process are absolutely vital. This is the time where we can unleash our creative, divergent thinking against the company’s most critical goals and needs. Usually, it involves hundreds of post-it notes, dozens of pens, and as much whiteboard space as we can find.

For this sprint however, I completely forgot to schedule any brainstorming time. Fortunately, Randall, one of our product designers, wrote this on a napkin:


“Doodle while reading California Sunday Magazine” by Randall. Medium: napkin from The Mill.

It was so obvious: work desperately needed real-life cheerleaders. The “Social Employee Recognition Systems” space needed to be cheerled.


We didn’t have time for some fancy, fully-fleshed out, high-fidelity, pixel-perfect cheerleader. We needed a minimum viable product. So we dressed John up as a cheerleader (pictured left): 


Getting out of the Building

Next, we had to get John in front of customers in their actual work environments. We had to “get out of the building.”

As we made our way out of the building, lots of people stopped John and asked to take pictures with him. This got really annoying, so we decided to go back into the building.

Getting Back Into the Building

Once we were back inside the building, we called up our interview subjects and asked them if they’d be fine coming to our place instead. Most said no, but a couple said yes. This was the moment we had all been waiting for!

We were so excited to test out our prototype, validate demand, and see if our novel sprint process was a success. Ana, our design lead, had already hired a ghostwriter for our soon-to-be released book Lean CX. It was clear that our proprietary lean cheerleader-experience process (build → megaphone → liberty) could be applied to across all sorts of businesses:

  • Build: pick someone to wear a cheerleading outfit
  • Megaphone: bring in potential customers and have your cheerleader yell at them through a megaphone
  • Liberty: advanced stunt. Have your cheerleader stand on one leg, with his/her hands extended upwards. Your customers will likely be leaving at this point.


Build → Megaphone → Liberty gave us invaluable information about our customers’ needs, and their complicated feelings towards John. This is the incredible value of putting a minimal viable product in front of your customers. The qualitative feedback we received here would never have come through in an abstract survey.

We saw consistent themes in the feedback like,

  • “Please…do not do this”
  • “I am watching the bubble burst before me”
  • “F*@% this”
  • “Would pay to keep this out of our offices”

Pictured Right: John performing a textbook “Liberty.” He is passionate about fundamentals!

SUCCESS!! People were willing to pay! Just like that, we had found product-market fit. Leveraging our design thinking / lean process, we had taken something from initial inspiration to validated solution in about an hour. This was exceptionally fast for us (normally these design sprints last twice as long) but you do get lucky every once in a while.

So, how do I get the Recognition Service for my organization?

The Recognition Service requires the core BetterWorks platform. If you are interested in learning more about BetterWorks, please visit our main site at www.betterworks.com for more information. For existing BetterWorks customers, the “John tier” is already activated. Please reach out to your customer success manager to have more advanced tiers like Shield or Pomdemand enabled.

Buying higher Recognition Service tiers is a simple one-time purchase:


The Future…

While we can’t say exactly what we’re working on next for the Recognition Service, we can say that rapidly evolving field of artificial intelligence has a big role to play. We will leave you with sneak peek into the future…


@Pomdemand bot is already making some friends. Only more to come!

Disclaimer: this is an April Fool’s joke. If you still have a teeny, tiny part of you saying, “maybe this is real!” please ignore that part of you immediately. Bing, Ciara, Randall, Ana, and John did not say or do any of the things described in this post (although, John really did wear that outfit.)