Getting lost among hype and buzzwords or finding future success in outcome economy?

Fast browsing through blogs and short articles on the outcome economy could provide terms and sentences that already sound very familiar – some of them you believe and perhaps some of you have already turned down. What’s new then? It depends. It is related to where you are now and where you have been – and more importantly where you would like to be.

What could we do better to realize the potential – and support competitiveness and the competitive advantage of the company and its ecosystem? There are – of course – multiple ways to do that. In this blog, I’ll take a mindset perspective – which to my mind means the way an organization continuously learns to take care of its core task in the changing activity environment and records it into its cultural heritage.

Keep on pursuing something new and if you find it, do not lose it!

Any hype or buzzword is not a bubble or success in the first place, but they all do carry renewal and innovation potential and thus new paths to create value for and with your customer. Adopting a cynical attitude towards yet another buzzword might sometimes be tempting. But do not let it prevent you from discovering something that is new for you or helps you to rediscover an old beloved idea (this might sometimes feel like meeting a good old friend), the timing of which just wasn’t right in the past, and strengthen it. (By the way, this applies both to business and to research).

Then again, if the hype or buzzwords just remain buzz, even though inspiring for a while, their real impact might even turn negative by preventing any forthcoming efforts to enliven people and get them interested. So you get impact, sure, but the direction is the opposite to that intended. The strengthened mindset might be like: “let’s play along but do not change anything important, they’ll turn around, right?”. Turning the hype and buzzwords into real guidance for strategic choices on business and actions, such as where to invest, what development and research programs to launch etc., in a particular firm in a particular situation with particular heritage, is not an easy task.

Drafting the idea of transformation in terms of business perceptions, R&D and management practices, technologies and customer relationships etc., as mirrors of the present and targeted culture provides the basis for discussions on the present and the preferred future. There might turn out to be a need for a proper critical evaluation of the present state of the business and development practices to start with. “Stealing” ideas and technologies from outside your industry and experimenting with those could be a good awakening. Stretching the idea of the “end-customer or end-user” of the whole system as far as possible and thinking of the preferred outcome in terms of experience offers a good framework for turning old thinking inside out. (See examples or a recent blog). Scanning potential business models together with your present rivals could take you even further into unexplored territory.

What could a new hype term or buzzword offer – what should you look for when starting the process?

  1. Open your eyes wide: Rethink your business – threats and opportunities. There is always room to do things differently.
  2. Scanning new technologies as enablers for renewing your business – particularly, you could seek ways to provide extraordinary experiences to end-users and customers or to demonstrate the outcomes to pursue in order to boost the construction of the business ecosystem.
  3. Redefine your identity and rethink your partners through new eyes. If you’d like to proceed, then it would be a good idea to share this openly and thus awake the interest of the others to join in.

Looking back: Finding your path for the treasure?

To demonstrate possible paths guided by the new buzzwords, I just picked up examples of related to user experience to illustrate possible lessons learned.

User experience (UX)

  • End-users and their experiences are also really important in B2B although the users are not normally the same people who make decisions on buying.
  • Experience driven development provides multiple ways to enhance your competitiveness.
  • Value is multidimensional, it includes subjective, personal and emotional aspects.

The typical progress could include UX strengthening the role of industrial design within the company and UX being first used for getting customer interest, sometimes with rather superficial solutions. One conclusion to be drawn is that becoming a market leader or staying in that position requires more than good products with more functions than your rivals, reasonable usability or more power, and better energy efficiency etc. This leads to discovering that focusing on end-user experiences opens up endless sources for innovations and differentiation. This is a good track to develop new collaborative and open methods to co-innovate with users and customers for future solutions. This way it could challenge the mindset to accept that there are still many people related issues (H2H) to work with, however practically unmeasurable (with reasonable costs), they are relevant in business and could be systemically developed for.

For an outcome economy, this provides good grounding to proceed and discover your way.  There is still huge treasure to be found for Finland’s export industry in robotization, automation and digitalization if looked at with new eyes – together!

If you are interested in considering this more, you can directly contact or meet us at Manufacturing Performance Days 2017, join or follow our seminar Creating the Future Success, Creating the Future Success” Tuesday 30th of May, at 8:30-12:00 and its results.

Maaria Nuutinen VTT

Maaria Nuutinen
Vice President, Business, innovation and foresight
Twitter: @MaariaNuutinen

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