Creating a meaning economy
I am happy. So many people are talking and writing about ‘meaning’. Applying something meaningful to their lives and the lives of others. And finally after speaking and writing about this for many years, doing something meaningful for a living. It almost looks like we are creating a ‘meaning economy’.
The client at the centre
But we are screwed, f***** even. Why? Any great school of thought has taught you in the last 20 even 100 years that the centre of all your business activities should be your CLIENT.
The great mistake of ‘what the client wants’…
The needs of your client, the wants, the criteria of your client. If your clients wants to eat a steak every day, you are a good businessman or woman if you somehow tap into that need. You need to turn your added value into a need. And before you know it, you have very happy customers and the end goal of that would be that you will have succes. Meaning: money, status, growth, development. A new fantastic car, followers from around the globe. Any business owner wants this. Most business coaches and trainers will teach you how to get to the walhalla of our times. And you’ve done good! You’ve done good because you transcended basic business. Selling something no-one needs but selling it anyway. You have actually listened to your customer.
What if customers needs are ‘messed up’?
But what if your customers needs are (sorry for my French) messed up? What if eating a steak everyday is in the end going cause so much problems that your grandchildren can’t breath anymore? That the earth is going to be a stove, a climate catastrophe. So you’re great grand or even your grand children will despise everything you have done?
What if we are completely messed up with the idea that we need to add value to our customer? Does adding value to our customer mean its our cart blanche for the delivery of products that will mess our existence up more and more.
The automotive industry is a ‘fantastic’ example. It’s ‘fantastic’ because anything that could have gone wrong in ‘adding value to the customer’ has gone wrong in this industry. In recent years it has become clear that many automotive brands cheated with emissions standards. Looking at this from a mere profit perspective one could say, ‘who cares, they used the loopholes in the system and added value to their customers. Their customers wanted affordable cars, quiet, comfortable and above all as cheap as possible. Many brands in the auto industry found creative ways of delivering to that desire. But there was one flaw in their plan: the future vision that they created had nothing to do with adding value to their customers needs. In the contrary, the automotive industry abided by the old law of making profit today and work on the long term vision tomorrow.
Leaving your values at home
I have always wondered why conscious, clever, able men and women in positions in companies that matter, leave the values that they have at home. Parking those values at the gate of their company. Men and women that, when they look into the eyes of their children know that their first responsibility is creating a future for them. A future they want to belong to. I have always wondered why people with MBA’s, degrees, political careers, whits and smarts have so little guts. Why they are so fearful about speaking up about things that matter?
If it’s true that a businessman or woman only needs to add value to their customer its quite understandable that the pharmacological industry is so big. People with mental problems want their problem to instantly resolved. If they want healthy looking meet we can colour their steak. If people want cheap transportation we can build cars that mess up the environment, because those cars are the ones to do both of those tricks at the same time…
Actually adding value
But what if business owners would add value to their customers life and.. actually add value to their customers life. Would you then want to sell meat that’s colored red or would you teach you’re customer that meat in fact looks brownish? Would you sell your customer cars that would add value to all their needs and to needs they haven’t even thought about yet? The need for your great grand and even your grand children to live on an earth that can truly be an earth your grand children want to belong to?
Adding value is not just about adding profit as an end game for your business. It’s about fulfilling needs and needs need to be fulfilled not only today, but tomorrow, 10 years from now and many years after that.
Leading your business
If you want to lead your business into a future people want to belong to, you need to take all the values you have. Not just the ones that matter in the management team meeting. The ones that matter for the stakeholders, the shareholders. Values that benefit the optimalization of turover and profit. No you need to ‘take’ all your values. The values that matter at home, when you are with your children, loved ones. The values that matter when you swimm in a majestical ocean. Those that matter when you walk in nature, enjoy art. To contribute to that future you want to belong to, you need to install them all in your strategies. And so courageously adding value to your clients life. If your don’t, your adding value stops at the gate and so does your business. Leading a business is about foreseeing the future. Don’t be a puss, create a future YOU want to belong too. Its called meaningful-profit. Letting all parties profit as you add meaning to the needs now, and the needs then.