If Value is Co-created in Use, Our Decisions Need to be Co-created


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When we approach sales we typically think of how we will address the customer’s problem. What needs we need to address and how we will do this in an engaging way? We are in The Experience Economy says authors Pine and Gilmore. Though many of us dwell on the Experience Economy, I think we are moving past that at an accelerated rate. This movement has its foundation in Service Dominant Logic, where the fundamental belief is that value is co-created with customers. The value is in the use of the product or service. This type of thinking is awkward to many organizations. In my latest book CAP-Do: Connecting Demand to the Lean Supply Chain, I begin the journey discussing sales and marketing from a perspective of being systemic, emergent, and participatory.

My latest thinking has been a result of spending time with stakeholder and customer journey maps and building user personas. These processes have assisted me moving from inside-out thinking to an outside –in perspective. It also helped my clients build better customer experiences. What I realized working with customers was that many of common problems they encountered became rather standard to deal with and many even automated. When we addressed sales issues we found a striking number as either straight-forward or responding to “opportunities” we had little chance of winning. If you would like more information on my sales perspective, read the blog post, Lean Salespeople are Challengers, not Problem Solvers.

The world of sales is on the edge of a collaborative way of selling. We no longer can just sell to a customer; we have to understand our customers’ business and our customers’ customer’s business. This can be done through scenario planning and from a perspective of being systemic, emergent, and participatory or The Cap-Do process.

From the book A problem has low dynamic complexity if cause and effect are close together in space and time.

  • A problem has high dynamic complexity if cause and effect are far apart in space and time.

    • A problem has low generative complexity if its future is familiar and predictable.
    • A problem has high generative complexity if its future is unfamiliar and unpredictable.


    • A problem has low social complexity if the people who are part of the problem have common assumptions, values, rationales, and objectives.
    • A problem has high social complexity if the people involved look at things differently.

    When any of the problems exist that are coded in red, they are fairly simple problems to address and most organizations know the answers and their preferred vendors. They may make a decision with preferred vendors or research other vendors just to confirm their decision (The dreaded request for proposal we often receive).

    The other set of problems, not in red, we struggle with as organizations. They are often described as messy or wicked problems.  The latest inbound marketing programs that are “social” in nature fail to deliver. They are simply built from our old thinking of a marketing funnel, responders, and workflows. We guide and manipulate the customer down some arbitrary path to arrive at the correct (our) decision.

    As Kahane says,

    Simple problems, with low complexity, can be solved perfectly well—efficiency and effectively—using processes that are piecemeal, backward looking, and authoritarian. By contrast, highly complex problems can only be solved using processes that are systemic, emergent, and participatory.

    We as an organization do not have solutions to problems of high generative complexity. They cannot be calculated in advance, in a journey map, based on our past thinking, but have to be worked out as the situation unfolds. Seldom are they miraculously worked out by “single experts” but rather by a team of highly involved people. A coalition or a team made up of customer(s) and vendor(s)  must accept the fact that there is not one right answer. It must emerge from doing or working towards the problem. Just as value is co-created in use, our decisions need to be co-created.

    We always equated the experience economy to a theater with actors being the customer facing people, the back stage the supporting cast and the audience the customer. I think that is a broken metaphor. A better metaphor may be a race team where the product/service is the car, and the driver (customer) is using it. The pit crew (vendor) is in constant communication and in support of its use. There is no backstage, we are completely transparent and, in fact, the customer’s own support might be part of the pit crew.

    Do you have an analogy that might work?

    Republished with author's permission from original post.

    Joseph Dager
    Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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