In this episode with Signify’s Head of Co-creation and People Insight, Maarten Pieters, you’ll learn about…
“If we focus on creating true value for our customers, they will connect with us and our organization will flourish.”READ FULL TRANSCRIPT
Maarten, I’m so excited to have you on the Brand Lab Series today. I’m a fan of yours. I’ve been a fan of Co-creation for almost a decade now. It’s been core to my company and how we work with some of our customers. But you’re really an expert in this area and I’m really thrilled to have you on so welcome to the Brand Live series.
Well, thank you very much and I’m very happy to be here and sharing about Co-creation, about what I’m doing and I’m very happy that you’re saying that you’re a fan of Co-creation. I appreciate very much that you’re saying that you’re a fan of what I do, but I think it’s really about Co-creation ’cause that’s one of the core things about Co-creation. It’s not about me, it’s not about a person, it’s about doing things together, so I’m very happy that you say that.
Well, why don’t we take a step back? I know you just kinda teased us there, but how would you define Co-creation and what really excites you about it?
Very good question. I’m gonna make that a very short answer if possible. But I fear it’s going to be a little bit more of a long answer. Co-creation, if you just look at the word, it really says we are co-creating something, we are creating something together. Now, that by itself sounds quite straightforward, but to do that actually is a very complex kind of situation. It’s not so easy. Often a lot of people think Co-creation is just doing a workshop. I hear that very often. People say, “Oh we’re doing a brainstorm together, or we’re having a session where we are trying to create something, make something together.” For instance, like a form of a hack-a-thon. And technically, they’re right, you are creating something together but to really get the most out of Co-creation, you have to see it in a more holistic way, you have to see it bigger than that. And this is also the core of the book I co-authored, “The Seven Principles of Complete Co-creation.” I look at Co-creation from a complete point of view. We, for instance, we say complete Co-creation is a transparent process of value creation in an ongoing productive collaboration with and supported by all relevant parties with end users playing a central role.
Now, there are a few points that are really important in that. First of all, the end user really needs to be part of what it is that we’re doing. So if we are creating something for instance, and you don’t have all the right pieces of the puzzle in that space creating with you or over time in different situations, you’re missing something. You’d be creating for instance, together with developers or designers or business people, you name it and you would be technically doing Co-creation in some form or another, but you’re not getting the most out of it because you don’t have all the relevant people involved. When you co-create something, you’re always creating something for someone. It only makes sense to involve those people whether it’s users, in terms of a user for a website, consumers, it could also be internally. I often co-create HR processes as well here at Signify, and then the managers, for instance the hiring managers, those would be now the users. It only makes sense to involve these people into that process. Another element of that definition of the definition of complete Co-creation, is that it is a process. I just said before, as well it’s not just a one workshop, or one session.
I often say here internally as well and this is how I sell it internally. It’s just, “Do what you do best. Use the processes that you’re used to. Whatever works for you, just do it in a co-creative way.” And it can be said, “Yes of course, you do your research to start off with, you get your discovery phase, your expiration phase or what you wanna call it, you start creating your concept, have an ideation and you start creating that direction. And yes, then you start building it and implementing it and follow up and there are multiple kind of processes that you can refer to, whether it’s the 4D’s or the 5Fs. When you look at design thinking or Agile processes and that’s all fine. Co-creation is almost like a filter that goes on top of that to make sure that what you are doing makes sense for everybody that’s involved. So yes, the end user, but also other stakeholders that are involved. Now especially in big organizations, there are multiple people that you have to bring along on that journey. You are walking that journey together to finally get to something that’s valuable and a win-win situation for everyone involved. Only in that situation can you really reap the benefits, basically of what it is that you’re trying to achieve.
Well, Maarten, you said that you were going to give us a simple but perhaps a long answer to that first question. And you certainly lived up to that on both accounts.
Sorry about that.
No, no, But again I think throughout that response you gave a really eloquent answer and I think one of the things that’s really interesting again, is someone who also spends a lot of time in the area of Co-creation. You said a couple of things that I think are so key and I think it’s also some of the things that have some people that are not quite as familiar with Co-creation scratching their head. One of the biggest takeaways I think from what you said is that it is a journey. I think too often people think, “Yes, let’s do a quick little design sprint workshop.” And those all have their places in certain aspects of building and designing something but I think the Co-creation journey, and in some cases can be a long one, but I think there’s this human element that’s also so key.
And you touched on it a little bit when you talked about the stakeholders, you talked about the end-users. To me, I think it’s really interesting when we talk to companies who are thinking about designing a new product or a new service, or a new experience, and they’re not including the end users in that. And I say, “How can you be doing that without involving them? I said, “I think you’re gonna see things that you otherwise wouldn’t see by co-creating together.” And I think in a world that’s become highly competitive and a lot of white noise, I said that also gives you such an interesting opportunity to build some brand loyalty, when you’re bringing that end user long in that journey. That’s kind of my take a little bit on what you said as well. I think there’s also, you touched on a couple of terms too like innovation in there, design thinking…
I think those are often misused buzz words today and I think Co-creation can fall in that as well. You briefly touched on this, but what do you think are some common misperceptions around Co-creation?
So I completely agree with everything you just said, and I think there are a few points in there that I’ll touch upon in that conversation. Just to answer your last question, there are quite a lot of misperceptions about Co-creation. One of them is, is that it’s very difficult, you have to involve all these different people that you have to find. Maybe you don’t have the connections to various users, or maybe you have to go to a lot of trouble to get your clients to come over, or to have different kind of conversations with them. And I think that’s not true.
When I started here at Signify, and we are a 130-year-old company, we’re the world leaders in light. It’s a very big organization that has been around for ages, and that is used to doing things in a particular way. So when I joined the company, when they asked me to join, I said, “Well, I love the goal of trying to be more customer focused, more human-centric. We’re trying to work together with our customers, with your customers more, but if that’s what we’re going to be doing, we’re going to do it in a more co-creative way.
So I said Michael would help the organization become a co-creative organization. That meant that I was putting in the nuance different in everything that I’m doing. So yes I do, and I’m involved with and responsible for people research, with user research your co-creation research – whatever you wanna call it. I do strategic design, heavy innovation project, reading the difficult questions, “How are we going to tackle this, what are we going to do, what are we supposed to say? And a lot of different people are involved into that process, and everybody has their own ways of doing things, their own experiences.
So then I come and say like, “Well I’m not so focused on the process itself, I’m much more focused on doing this in an inclusive way.” So, instead of working by yourself, at your desk working on a PowerPoint, trying to crank out what you think is best, let’s do this in a very agile way. Let’s involve the people that we should be involved in here, let’s learn from them, and just learn very quickly along the way. That could be interviews, that could be going out and then seeing what’s happening, that could be speaking to experts, that could be creating maybe a text or something like that, or anything else. We’ll do concept together with these people. How about we invite our customers to the ideation that we’re organizing?
So there are lots of different ways that you can involve your customer, involve the different people that have a relevant piece of the puzzle into that process, and this is also just linking you back to what you said before. So a lot of people think it’s difficult, but it’s not. A lot of people, your customers, they know that you’re doing something useful for them, otherwise they wouldn’t be your customer. And a lot of these people, they’re willing to spend a bit of their time to help you to do even better than you are doing, because that of course is useful for them. I know some people find it interesting to hear what’s actually happening. Now we’re doing a lot of things beyond lighting as we know it. + we’re talking about IoT, it’s this completely different world than say, 10 years ago. And there’s a lot of benefit in that for our customers, and they know that we cannot just do that by ourselves.
So this is one of the things that as well, that’s very important. So every day I’m helping people to understand, “Well, why is it that we’re doing it this way? What about involving different people? Why don’t we do this in a more co-creative way? Do we think we know that, are we sure we know that? Where did we hear that from?”
And we’re using all of these moments that allow us to be more co-creative, to really make an impact, to show the rest of the organizations, “No, it’s not difficult, it doesn’t cost that much. These people are ready to be moved into what we’re doing.” And we can see that overtime we’ve really created this movement of people internally that leads all the way to the top of our organization, and we’re making it part of the DNA of our organization.
That absolutely answers the question, Maarten. And I think one of the things that is interesting is a few years back, like I said, I’ve been kind of leading a bit of our own company’s Co-creation’s journey for the better part of this decade, and I think what’s interesting is there is a lot of research. IBM Global Index did one of high level executives, there’s been a lot… And McKenzie and some of the big consulting groups too, looking at this Co-creation process. And again, it seems to indicate that the leading organizations are doing it, even some of the bigger ones. Obviously you’ve talked about your organization being like the world’s leader in lighting and a few other areas. I think one of the things that’s also interesting, and I’m really curious your point of view on this. When you try to sell in a Co-creation process, or a plan, or an engagement, I think that there’s one question that we I know get asked a lot at our company which is, “Well what is the outcome going to be?”
And I think that’s one of the hardest things for us, is because we tell them quite candidly, we don’t necessarily know, because if we’re doing authentic Co-creation and we are bringing it, and in the case, for example, your end customers, and you’re gonna let them inside the walls of your organization to design something with them, we don’t necessarily know this really what that could actually look like. That’s been one area where I think we found the C-suite level to be a little bit apprehensive because they usually like to know if they’re going to invest something, whether it’s time, resources, money, into something, what they’ll get as a return. So I’m curious if you’ve run into that, whether it be through internal stakeholders or third-parties, answering that question of, what do you think this outcome is going to be?
And I think you’re absolutely right. I do come across these type of questions and sometimes, it’s easy to explain to people because taking some time to worm through what such a Co-creation process could look like and maybe giving them examples of the past helps them to open their mind and to look at it from a different angle. It’s very important to always remember well, what’s their starting point? And especially if you don’t have any experience with Co-creation, it becomes a scary world because people like to keep control, as you say. And if you’re saying, “Well, we don’t really know what will come out.” Which by the way of course is the nature of creating something new and we do have a direction of course, but it could be that we end up here or there, or maybe on that side, we don’t know yet. Of course the purpose is to create value and if people have no experience with that, it can make them very uncomfortable. So I always show them examples from what we are doing and how we are taking Co-creation and then make part it of our processes, of our way of working.
But I do see, for instance, that there are various results that for us were measurable. For instance, we had done a project here, an early one stage when I arrived which became one of the examples basically within our organization of how to do things, but more importantly, it gave us some metrics. In this case, we co-created a new product, which is part of the the U-family, the U-smart lighting family. And it’s the U-outdoor lighting strip. And it was at the time, a new product into the U-family, and we said, “Well we’re gonna make sure that we involve our customers. We’re gonna make sure that also we involve the people internally to make sure that everybody understands what it is that we’re doing and why, but that the customer is leading, that the user is leading. And of course we have a lot of ideas of what we think that outdoor strip should be. We knew it was going to be an outdoor strip because we of course had seen, “Well there’s an opportunity for that.” But we didn’t know the nuances.
And I think this is important to mention, it’s like, “Well we are going to make an outdoor strip. Unless something really weird happens, and we find out we’ve be completely wrong fine. But we don’t know yet is actually what those nuances will be.” And selling it like that made it a lot easier for people to understand because they said, “Well, no, of course you don’t know because you still have to design it. We have ideas. Okay, it’s good. Please, please go ahead.” We learned, for instance, from that Co-creation process because we had an idea what it was supposed to be before we started the Co-creation process, which made a very nice before and after situation for us. It created a lot of different elements when we look at the final product. For instance, initially we thought, “Well if we have that long nice strip, you can make a defused option and a pixelated option.” On different sides, you can do something different with the light. However, the users are like, “I don’t need a pixelated trip. I just want that defused strip.”
For us, we were like, “Well but that’s less than what we could do.” But to them it’s, “But this is all that we want.” It’s these little things but also when you look at how they would be using such a strip. Of course, we had a lot of use cases in mind but we also found out actually by interacting with these people, their particular use cases were more important than we actually thought in advance. For instance, it meant that we had to make the light strip more waterproof. Anyway, so a lot of these little nuance, the little details that we changed because of the interaction, because of the collaboration with the consumers, which in the end actually resulted to a product that had the highest rating on Amazon when we talk about U products. It also meant that we actually sold more that we projected in advance. We won two design awards, a new patent was added because of the Co-creation.
So these different elements were very interesting of course for our C-level and all the different managers in the organization. ‘Cause they were thinking, “Aha, if I am going to do Co-creation, the chance of me ending up with something more valuable, and by the way also we can do that faster, because instead of trying to figure out what we think is right and learning, and making mistakes, internally, if we interact with that user and the customer earlier, preferably from as early as possible on and doing that continuously during that process, it avoids us making the wrong decisions. That’s what we use internally to make sure that people start co-creating. And if they are not yet very convinced about it, although I have a little experience about it, we use these type of examples to show them what that world could look like.
Super insightful to kinda talk through some of those successes that you’ve had internally. And the outdoor lighting one in particular is something that jumps out at me because you kind of alluded, the fact that in many ways, you kinda knew at least what your potential outcome would be or what you were hoping to design. But by bringing along those end users, the actual consumers, you were able to see maybe a feature or a function that you thought you could design or maybe you would have originally included in the design element, but then you realized that the end user really doesn’t put a lot of value on that or didn’t have a need for that. And it’s interesting, ’cause on a past episode of the Brand Lab Series, we had Bob Master, he’s one of the kind of founders, if you will of the jobs-to-be-done framework with Clayton Christian Center at Harvard Business and he talked a lot about how, I think the CPG industry has almost 7000 products a year will launch, but such a small number, I think it’s literally less than 50 will ever go over $50 million in revenue and that that’s just an abysmal number.
And he says a big reason for that is that people aren’t designing a new product and a service with ultimately the end consumer in mind. So the way you kinda talked about that and how I see a lot of value in Co-creation is super interesting. And you’ve also talked a little bit today, but it’s something that I’ve also seen as part of our relationship across social that I think is worth noting. You’ve talked a lot about how Co-creation is really also about driving value, and I think that’s also a word that’s often misunderstood, because value doesn’t always necessarily mean growth. Do you wanna expand upon that a little bit?
I do, and I agree with you, it’s not always about growth. Actually, I find growth a very dangerous word because it puts the hierarchy wrong ’cause for me, growth is a result. Making money is a result. And often it’s being put as the main thing that we have to achieve, but you need to have the confidence that if you say, “Look, we are creating the best value possible for our customers.” And it doesn’t mean this have to be the most fantastic solution out there. It needs to be spot on for them, right? It needs to be something that is exactly right on their level and fantastic for them in their specific context. And maybe theoretically that means we could do much more or much better, like with the outdoors strip. We could have done much more with it, but that wasn’t from their perspective on what they needed. For me if we focus on creating that true value for our customers they will connect with us, it will resonate, our organization will flourish because of that. And as a consequence we will see growth, as a consequence will be making money, etcetera, etcetera.
Building off of some of the examples that you cited just internally there, are there some other organizations that you see that are doing Co-creation well, that maybe you kind of use as either inspiration for your own Co-creation thinking, or to help educate and teach people about Co-creation?
There are many organizations out there in the world that are doing something with Co-creation in one form or another. Sometimes it’s very small, sometimes they’re experimenting with it, and sometimes they have really made it part of their organization. And for me, all these situations, all these contexts are equally valuable and equally interesting. For instance, I was doing a keynote in Slovenia, somebody was talking about one situation where she was interacting with different people in her organization. She did it with so much passion, she tried so many different ways of getting these other people to come along, that taught me something. It showed me again for instance, how important it is to keep on repeating that message. And how easy is for people to kind of fall back into their original, their normal way of doing things. And because I do realize, when we start doing Co-creation, it does require a different mindset. It does require doing things slightly different than maybe you’re used to. And sometimes it put things in a completely different perspective. So for me, it’s this inclusive approach that’s leading. And one must have then of course the confidence to then walk that doing it together.
Whereas some people are really focused on, “Well, I need to create this particular output right now.” Whereas I’m thinking like, “Well, who are the people, what are the pieces of the puzzle that I need to be able to get to that answer?” Again, there are small situations, small companies that can be extremely inspirational, and larger organizations that I think are really, really paving the way. Now of course, Signify is doing that in our own environment. But if you look at Ikea for instance, they’ve really taken it upon themselves to become a co-creative organization. And if you follow them, if you look at what they’re doing, they’re really trying to, in multiple ways, also reach out to different consumers or to collaborations with students, for instance, universities or different start-ups. In multiple ways of trying to figure out how can they leverage what is happening outside that maybe they don’t know about and bring that inside and then doing that together?
And do you see Co-creation gaining a little bit more traction and either the B2C world or the B2B world? Does one tend to lead the other one in terms of adoption or Co-creation success?
It’s a tricky question. I think the B2C world is more visible. So it does look like say in the B2C world this makes more sense because yes, we’re working with consumers. It looks like that collaboration is easier and sometimes people use it as a kind of a marketing or branding tool as well, right? So you see it happening much more often. However, in the B2B world it’s equally important, equally relevant. So for me, I don’t necessarily see the distinction between B2C and B2B. In the end, there are always users and all these different people involved. So if I take away the distinction it just says, “Well actually, there’s people here who need to collaborate with different people than who are working together and hopefully with other people who for whom they are creating value.” And that’s exactly the same in both context. It’s just B2C is a bit more visible for people, but in the B2B area I think it’s maybe even more important to get things right, and to do Co-creation because it can be a more complex environment.
Well, you just talked a little bit about people in general and I know that that’s even baked into your impressive title at Signify, but when I see the people around the room when we’re doing Co-creation oftentimes as you know you’re gonna have your internal team and maybe that’s all it is for a particular engagement or it’s a partner company or it’s the end customer. But I think either way there’s some great opportunity potentially in the area of employee engagement, and or customer experience when you’re using Co-creation. How do you see that improving one or both of those areas?
I think it has a big effect actually, in terms of customer experience, of course, when you’re co-creating with your customers it has a beneficial effect, right? If you look at that entire journey, if you look at all the different touch points you can get the nuances right, all that experience. But the thing about Co-creation is that by involving different people, by building that relationship in different ways, you’re starting to learn from each other, and you’re starting to understand each other, and you’re actually building a form of a relationship like people do. And when you build a relationship you also try to help each other, and you forgive each other if you make a mistake maybe. And you’re trying to figure out together like, “Well, how can we move forward?” And that’s what I like about Co-creation. Well, it’s something that’s very much looking forward. Whereas if you take MPS for instance, it’s always like you’re thinking backwards and saying, “Well, were you happy with what we do and you satisfied with the service that we offered?” “Sure, it was great.” But does that mean that people come back? Does it mean that people say, “We’ll actually engage with you again.” Well…
We’re not sure, we don’t know, maybe, maybe not, but when you do Co-creation, there is a different relationship there. And it creates a deeper relationship and I think that definitely then has a very positive effect on the customer experience and on loyalty. And that’s the same when you look at employe engagement. As I said before, I work a lot with our HR teams because by involving the different people here in the organization, we’re not only creating different services, different processes, they actually make sense for them. Not just what makes sense in a PowerPoint, what makes sense in an Excel sheet, it’s not about the process, it’s about how do people use the system or the process and how can we help them do their work better. And by involving people, they feel respected, they feel… They’re motivated to join in and they want to help and they generally feel better because… Well, it’s fun to do. And you know what you’re not treated as just an employee, you’re treated as an equal. And I think that’s also very important in Co-creation… I mentioned before, it’s not about ego, it’s about everyone’s equal. Of course, everybody has different responsibilities but everyone in the organization regardless of their position or their experience can add something to what it is that we’re collectively trying to do.
Throughout our conversation you’ve talked a little bit about inclusiveness and I think there’s another thing there that is also empathy. One of the things that we’ve seen firsthand is when you put together customers and non-customers, employees and partners, there seems to be a sense of camaraderie and a sense of empathy there. It gives people the opportunity to say, “Oh I can relate to Maarten. Or Brian is a lot like me.” Talk about how you’re seeing empathy involved in the Co-creation process. Is that something you’ve seen in a lot of your activity?
Absolutely. What happens is that within the world of Co-creation, it’s not about, “Ooh you’re an organization and we’re trying to just make money.” It’s like, well sure, of course, it’s an organization, unless they’re doing it for the greater good, they’re in it for the money, and everybody understands that. But by having those personal relationships by involving people, by talking to people, by actually listening and conversing and not putting yourself first, but actually trying to understand what it is that this person who’s sitting in front of you or you’re talking to cares about, what normal people would be doing together… It’s like having a group of friends, and you go out for drinks and you have conversations and you understand what’s happening together. That lowers the barriers, that makes people understand each other, that makes people connect, that makes people see, “Okay, maybe it’s not what I thought it was.” Funny enough I… Some time ago, beginning of the year, I gave a Seattle workshop and somebody in the audience stuck out actually. I thought it was rather interesting.
A lot of people sitting there, and it was one person had to… Had the book, had “The Seven Principles of Complete Co-creation” in front of them. He was all prepared notes everywhere and it was this big strong guy, and I was like, “Oh wow. And I need to reach out to this guy. Who are you? Great that you’re here.” And turned out, he’s working for the US Air Force. And they said, “Well, we also realized that Co-creation can help us build a bridge to well, to the people that we’re trying to reach.” And I thought like, “Well if they even realized that Co-creation has the power to help them, then it can work for everyone.”
For sure. And you talked once or twice throughout our conversation, about the seven principles of complete Co-creation and you cited a little bit, some of your workshops in that. How hard do you find it to actually teach Co-creation?
I think with teaching anything right… And I do a lot of trainings and presentations workshops, internally and externally. It is extremely useful for people to experience a session or a workshop and it will definitely help them to just think differently. And I always aim to make sure that people walk away with something that they can actually, “I’m going to look at what I’m doing, might challenge my way of working on a slightly different angle right now.” I never expected to go from zero to hero. Or depending of course on the experience that they have, because it’s something that you have to learn over time. And it requires maybe some skills that people have not yet focused on so much. One of them, for instance, being really inclusive and involving your colleagues and different people continuously. Really reaching out to them, letting go of fear and actually showing what it is that you’re doing. There are multiple elements that are much more, let’s say psychological that people have to start getting used to and start working with. And of course, on the other hand, there are different tools that you can use.
I always refer to the design thinking tool kits and Google sprints, these type of tools they all fit. And you’ve mentioned this before, but they all fit into this co-creative process. And these elements of course, things tools, these exercises, these are things that are easy to learn for people or at least relatively easy to learn because you can simply say, “Look here’s an exercise. This is what I want you to say. Try this, look at these elements and let’s give it a go.” And by doing so, of course they will learn and they will grow and they’ll see how it works for them, ’cause that’s also very important. You have to make Co-creation work for you. There’s not one way of doing that but sometimes there are elements that yeah, they’re more difficult for people to internalize. If you’re used to always working by yourself and… Or maybe you feel insecure about your work, how do you then open up. How do you then allow yourself to be more vulnerable and maybe reach out to different people at different stages throughout that process and maybe hear things that you didn’t wanna hear?
So, those are a bit more difficult, but I always try to make sure that people have the confidence and feel at ease with reaching out, with letting go some of their fears, next of course to learning particular skills that they can use. So, all in all, it can be relatively easy to learn, but if you really wanna be really good at Co-creation, for some people, it can be a bit of a longer journey, but it’s definitely achievable for everyone.
Maarten, you almost took the words out of my mouth. I wasn’t gonna interrupt, but I wanted to talk about vulnerability, ’cause I think that’s part of what’s required for this journey, and that’s not easy for everyone. But I think that that’s really key to being successful at Co-creation. What would be one thing that you would encourage an individual or a company to do if he, or she, or the organization is thinking about getting started on Co-creation? And I know that that’s kind of hard to break it down to one thing, but as you think about maybe someone who’s just a little intimidated about the idea and just needs to start making forward progress, what’s maybe one thing you would recommend as you start thinking about Co-creation?
I think I can actually answer that, and I do that here in Signify as well and in my own organization. For instance, or when I do, when people have an ideation, or a brainstorm, or some type of workshop and they’re thinking about, “Well, what is good for the user, what’s good for our customer? What should we deliver? What should we create? What type of value proposition should we be building?” I would say, you know what, just invite one of your customers, two customers that have an opinion about this, that are open to work with you, and just invite them into that workshop and just do it together, ’cause I can guarantee you that the discussions and the dynamics in that workshop will be completely different than if you were just doing it with the people internally. And it’s about taking those little steps, because if you wanna start doing Co-creation, the best thing to do is to just try something, open up, invite people over, have some interviews, invite them to your sessions bit by bit by bit by bit. And by doing so, not only yourself, you’ll get more comfortable with it, but also the people around you, because it’s very important to remember that if you are completely convinced about Co-creation, but the people are around you are not, you’re not gonna get anywhere. It’s gonna be very difficult.
So it’s about making sure that while you’re trying out things and while you’re learning, and or while you’re pushing the Co-creation agenda, you have to make sure that the other people around you in your ecosystem come along, of course in their own way and their own speed, but you have to help each other, you have to help them to also join you in that Co-creation journey.
Good advice. And as we wind down, I know the bulk of our conversation, which we intended it to be was obviously all about Co-creation. You’ve done a really eloquent job of kind of defining it, breaking it down, identifying some best practices in terms of how to approach it, some of the skills that are kind of required around it. You’ve touched a little bit on the the various principles of your 7 Principles of Complete Co-creation. One of the things that we didn’t have a chance to really hit on, so I wanna make sure I ask this as a final question is in 2018, Signify became the new company name of Philips Lighting. And as you talked a little bit throughout the interview, your company is 130 plus years old, it’s really the world’s leader in lighting. And in just the last few years, we’ve seen such an acceleration of smart lighting, we continue to see IoT make gains across your industry. What’s kind of on the horizon that excites you at Signify?
That’s an interesting question, because there’s so many things happening. The thing is because now everything has become connected, because we’re talking about the internet of things, the possibilities are endless. So now imagine this, where there are people, there is light. So, indoors, everybody everywhere in the world except unfortunately for some people still in certain regions, but we’re also helping these people with making sure that they have light everywhere there’s light. Now, that infrastructure is there. So imagine what you can do on top of that. We’re continuously looking to branch out to different values bases and to use the smart lighting infrastructure, if you will, to create new value, not just ourselves, also and you’ve seen this indeed on along social, we’ve been doing a hackathon recently, which is extremely interesting, because we started looking with various different companies, big company, small companies. How can we create joint value propositions?
And that could lead us to completely different spaces that we’ve never actually thought about before. But at the same time, the possibilities of light itself have improved, that it has evolved. It’s good for us humans. We can actually influence how we feel with light. We can create atmospheres, we can… And it gets very technical if I go behind it, it’s a very fascinating world. But just to give you an example, yes, good for humans, but also good for animals, good for plants, for vegetables. For instance, if you look at light in horticulture, using different light levels, different colors of light, you can actually influence how a plant grows. For instance, the stem can grows thicker or the leaves can grow… All of these type of things. So, it’s an extremely rich world that has an incredible amount of potential. And maybe also interesting is, is that it’s not just about light, but light, it can also carry data. You may heard of Li-Fi, light fidelity, it’s basically internet using light, which is much faster and much more secure than the normal internet connection that we know at the moment using Wi-Fi.
So it goes into all these different directions. And now is actually the moment where you we can really start using all that knowledge, all that technology that we build up over all those years, because of the need over the last few years, things have changed so much with LED light technology, with connected technology, with IT, that these things are now possible. All the things that we’ve dreamed of 10, 20, 30 years ago, we can do them now. So it’s an extremely exciting future for Signify, and I don’t even know half of the things that we could achieve if I look into the future.
Well, as I’m listening to you, I’m realizing that could be a whole other podcast conversation, ’cause there is a lot of really interesting and fascinating things I think that you’re doing and on the horizon as well. I obviously wanted to keep today’s discussion more focused around Co-creation, ’cause it’s something as we started the conversation about I’m super passionate about, we work with a lot of customers on that. It’s something that you inspire me when I see some of the things you’re doing in Co-creation. So I’m super excited that you were on our Brand Lab Series today. And our listeners may not know this, but one of the things that’s also a big credit to Maarten is this is the end of a very long day, we’re recording in the morning in Chicago, it’s the end of the day in the Netherlands, so I can’t thank you enough for being on. How can our listeners learn a little bit more about you or Signify?
Thanks for asking that. And first of all, thank you for reaching out, and again, I’m very happy to share about what we are doing about Co-creation. And I’d love to also get in touch with your listeners. One of the things I always say is just get in touch with me on LinkedIn and on social media, whether it’s Instagram or Twitter, Maarten Pieters. And of course my name is spelled in Dutch, but they’ll see it [chuckle] online, they can read it. Just reach out to me, link with me, because I love to hear as well what people are doing when it comes to Co-creation or if they would like some advice, if they’d like to learn something, please reach out. And yes, I do share a lot on social media as well, so hopefully that inspires people too.
And if they feel like reading the book, I think it’s a very useful book, because we’ve made sure that the book is filled with very practical examples really aimed to help people start co-creating themselves. And they can get it on Amazon or anywhere else in the world, The 7 Principles of Complete Co-creation. But I think for me, the last thing I would like to mention to them is just start at least to try, start experimenting with different forms of Co-creation, indeed open up, maybe become a bit more vulnerable, and just give it a go, and see where it goes, because I can guarantee you that it will create something that will be extremely valuable to all of us.
Thank you, Maarten.
Thank you very much.
Tags: Co-Creation, Customer Experience, Employee Advocacy, Technology
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