Minna Suutari: Why does a tea drinker spend time in a coffee-shop?


I like going to Starbucks. I don't go there for the coffee, as I don't drink coffee. As a staunch tea drinker, a dunked tea-bag is not the reason I go back there either. My customer loyalty is based on encounters where value is created through good customer service, feelings of familiarity and community as well as status; alongside this you can also enjoy the occasional cardboard mug of quite reasonable tea.

Rich, shared value is becoming the leading light in conversations about business operations and the renewal of companies. At the Nordic Business Forum, which was held in Helsinki at the beginning of October, all the speakers from Jim Collins to Arnold Schwarzenegger challenged companies to think broadly about the reason or significance for their existence. According to business gurus, the really successful realise that they have to be useful to customers, their employees and those around them; to society generally. For its customers or employees, money or financial success is no longer a good enough reason to set up a business. Financial success is based on a richness of value.

Tekes' recent report "Arvonluonnin uusi aalto" (The new wave of wealth creation, in Finnish) describes an upheaval where pathfinder companies are challenging the traditional base of value creation; the creation and maximisation of wealth, through their acts and choices. Instead, solutions are created for customers; solutions that are something more and something broader, that touch deeper, more often and for longer than used to be the case. They are the keys to sustainable development which is what Tekes is also aiming for in its new strategy.

Rich and all-embracing value for customers, employees or other stakeholders is not generated using traditional design tools. Companies need new kinds of design skills which is represented by the wave of "design-led thinking" that is rapidly spreading around the world. Companies that have taken it on board try to understand the world from a people and end-user perspective by utilising familiar design methodologies and creating richer value by using visualisation, prototyping and user testing.

Tekes is encouraging companies to use design to renew strategic thinking, the user experience, products and services. This autumn we have also launched an internal development project where we use service design to challenge our own ways of things and acting. We want to be creators of rich and shared value and that is why, together with one of our customers, we will be systematically developing our own customer-centred operating model during next year using design methods. This will be visible through various experiments in our operations, both within our organisation and in various events, searches or communications targeted at customers.

"Those with knowledge try to sell last Christmas's hits this Christmas. Those with vision use this Christmas's hits to blow up the bank", said Jari Danielsson, Managing Director of branding and design consultancy Kuudes Kerros, at a trade conference recently. This view is created by walking in the customer's shoes and understanding why your product, service or solution is important to the customer, partners and society around us. That is what we at Tekes are trying to do and we also encourage our customers and partners to do the same.

Minna Suutari
Programme Manager, Feelings

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