Mid-year report from the Community Advisory Board

By Sebastian Böttger

1st June 2021

Six months ago, Sono decided to give the Community a seat on the advisory board. Varying factors, including the global pandemic, meant that we were not to establish the full advisory board as quickly as we usually would have, something we hope to achieve very soon.

We have not, however, been resting on our laurels in recent months, despite not having an advisory board. 

In Summary – How Is the Advisory Board Structured?

Essentially, the work consists of four points:

  • Consultation roughly once or twice weekly
  • Bringing the Community/client perspective into various decisions, where direct consultation with the Community is not possible
  • Answering questions and queries from the Community that come to the advisory board on a quarterly basis. The current list of which can be found here
  • Reviewing documents and questionnaires before publication to see if they include questions from the Community (more facts, less marketing)

Of course, I am not the Community alone, and can thus only speak, to a limited extent, for the Community as a whole. How to handle this is also presented below.

The Position of the Community Advisory Board

The position and function of the Community Advisory Council is completely new. First, we had to find ways to work together in a meaningful way. What made pragmatic sense, quickly became clear. The classic way is to have weekly consultations. This way everyone stays on the same page. From there we go into the finer details.

The advisory board is a position of trust. In terms of the state of development, there are actually no secrets. I can't divulge any details, but I think you can tell from my motivation and enthusiasm that I'm convinced the project will be a success.

Laurin and I are measuring the SVC2's trunk.
Laurin and I are measuring the SVC2's trunk.

In the beginning, some people at Sono found it strange that all of a sudden a representative of the reservation companies was popping up here and there. The question: "what are they doing there?" was pretty obvious. As an engineer, I have the advantage of being able to serve as an expert on some specialist topics, which further blurs those lines somewhat. This has since become a very well established position that provides real added value and is even actively demanded in order to include the perspective of future customers right from the start.

The Matrix

Sono uses a matrix for a wide range of decisions in which all "stakeholders" enter their opinions and recommendations on a scale from 1 to 5 (1 = don't do, 5 = definitely do). As a Community representative, I am occasionally involved as one of a total of 5 -10 voices. Other voices included are, for example, management, the finance department, the departments involved, marketing and the legal department. 

A small example of a successful vote is the return of the reservation number on the homepage and the reservation number for reservation holders. Many reservation holders love ‘their’ individual number and soon everyone will receive a number, even those who don’t yet have one. Reservation numbers are actually already back up on our website. We do also, of course, have weightier issues, but mostly all positive.

You, the Community, lay the foundations for my answers in the surveys. The results are binding for me and that is how I vote. I do not diverge from your answers. 90% of the time, the decision is easy and beyond doubt. So, I have a good feeling that I am representing you well in this respect. At some point, we will be able to publish this, and then you will have the opportunity to see it too. At the moment, I just need your trust that everything will go according to the principle of getting the Sion, and the idea behind it, on the road.

So far, I have only had to vote a resounding "no" once on a minor issue on behalf of the Community. I must say, that caused quite the discussion. With that being said, working with the matrix always includes giving reasons for the assessment. So, in the end, a good compromise was found that even improved the result.

Communication

I often receive questions like, "Do you know anything about...", or, "Can you tell me why...". I also read the wildest speculations online, and often it would be incredibly easy for me to get involved and give my two cents. I even sometimes have journalists call. The rule here is that I never speak for Sono, but always refer to official reports. Through my Sunday column, I have collected 51 gigabytes (!) of data material on Sono. This is all completely searchable in a split second. Even if I am unable to answer all the questions I receive, they don't get lost by any means. They are all contained in a long Excel list. 

On occasion, I discuss them, and Sono then communicates the answers. Not always immediately - they have enough to do - but to reiterate nothing gets lost. Conversely, Sono is always interested in what moves the Community. If a question is of interest to many, it goes on a collection page. There you can find out which questions are currently open.

I cover all of the latest developments at Sono in my personal blog.
I cover all of the latest developments at Sono in my personal blog.

Only Sono ever answers the questions. I must praise them here in this respect. The transparency at Sono is meant truly seriously. I actually set out to ensure that our questions are not just answered with a melodious marketing canned product, but properly and comprehensively. Sono takes this very much to heart and now even publishes the smallest details from development in PDF form every 14 days.

The announcement of the postponement to 2023, for example, was a topic that could not be voted on. Once the new schedule was in place, it was clear that the information had to be made public. Sono decided to do it immediately, with maximum transparency. I was present at all the calls in which Laurin and Jona personally explained the over 3,000 reservations via Zoom - as well as in the run-up to the preparation. Your feedback showed that the decision was the right one.

Who Are the Others?

The advisory board itself will soon be formally launched. There are a total of 6 people on it, with very different backgrounds, a good mix.

I am already in more intensive exchanges with some of them and they are fun - intelligent, very active and successful personalities. Each time, new, innovative ideas emerge, but also concrete measures. Again, Sono will announce the details when the time comes.

Next Steps

In June, the test drives could commence again, and I would be happy to meet some of you in person. You are also welcome to email me at seb@sono.community. There will be several videos regarding subjects you have sent through. Some of them have actually already been shot.  

And last, but not least, there will be another look under the hood to answer the eternal question of "how far is the Sion from being ready for series production, and what's going on right now?"

Best regards,

Sebastian 

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