Service-dominant logic for events

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In 2004 Robert F. Lusch and Stephen L. Vargo published their article ‘Evolving to a New Dominant Logic for Marketing’ .  This has become the most cited marketing article in the last decade.  In addition their Service-Dominant logic (S-D logic) story has become a framework for all sorts of business domains.  In the publication ‘Service-Dominant logic, premises, perspectives, possibilities’ (Cambridge 2014) the authors have elegantly summarized their S-D logic findings and reservations : from the origins of the ten postulates to the perspectives and possibilities of a S-D logic outlook.  This is a serious read; every sentence contributes and urges the reader to persevere until one finally grasps the S-D logic mindset.  Once that has happened, these ideas are all-encompassing; one sees the world through a totally different pair of eyes.  Not one ‘product’ remains the same, one constantly looks for contexts and ecosystems, which are connected to co-creating consumers or with a better term  created by the authors ‘actors’.

De authors advise ‘to jot down ideas and discuss’ but also to apply these ideas to personally known business domains.  That is exactly what I have done, I ” jotted down” fifteen pages of my reflections on events management.  I will try to use these notes to convey the basic concepts of the S-D logic. First I will write down an entire quote that expresses my view on SD-logic for events. Afterwords I will pull this quote apart, and try to explain section by section. This is not an easy task but if you bear with me I am sure that at the end of this text you will have grasped the beginning of the S-D logic mindset!

An event is a service-for-service exchange ecosystem that focuses on creating maximum density for the resource-integrating co-creative actors, connected by shared institutional logics and mutual value creation.

Resource-integrating co-creative actors

In considering the S-D logic for me the mindset-element created by the resource-integrating co-creative actors is the most mind-altering and even mind-blowing.  Once one focusses on co-creators and the contexts influencing value one becomes aware of the limits of the Goods-Dominant logic (G-D logic).  To abandon this traditional way of thinking is not easy.  Let me illustrate with an example given by the authors : a glass only gets value while drinking the wine, made, bottled, labelled and transported by the many actors involved.  Considering the wider context it becomes clear that the value-in- use is also influenced by the company in which we enjoy the wine, our mind-set at the time of drinking or even the setting of our wine drinking.   The appreciation of the value-in-use and the value-in-context is very  personal.  So, value is not exclusively determined by the product, but more importantly by the use in a certain context.  Value is therefore subjective.  The authors use the term phenomenological value.  The wine drinker’s  objective may be to get drunk, then the value of both the glass and the wine are determined by this desire in relation to the offered benefit.

I personally use the following two questions to free myself of the goods-dominant thinking when considering an experience.

(1) Why does the actor do something e.g. why does the actor use that glass?
(2) What is the actor’s wider context?  What becomes clear when studying the context of the wine drinker?

In using this method the possible value(s)-in-use and the value(s)-in-context become easier to see.

Service-for-service exchange ecosystem(s)…. connected by shared institutional logics and mutual value creation.

To proceed from context to service-ecosystems is not difficult.  When concentrating on context at a particular time, ecosystems will manifest themselves : family, relatives, school, work and even sociological and political ideas like e.g. democracy.   According to the authors service-ecosystems have a ‘spatial-temporal network structure’ and are connected with each other as ‘nested levels of meaning’ in which A2A (actor-to actor)  exchange occur.

To see  events as service-ecosystems is not difficult either.  ‘Spatial-temporal’  easily leads to the real time-event as a possible ecosystem.  I have no problems to interpret the ‘spatial-temporal’- criterion in a very broad sense and to include the on-line conversation event, which I elaborate on in my book “We love Events.”  Actors, and in this instance the participants in our conversation-event and/or real time event are connected in experiencing co-creative values, which by experiencing them they can also share.  This sharing then again is part of the value-creating experience.  A “like” or “share” of a conversation or e.g. enjoyment of a real-time event (like dancing) ensure the sharing of values and strengthen the ecosystems of both events.

To establish clear connecting event values is absolutely crucial for any event manager.  These values can connect the event participants in a variety of strengths.  With an event with great density, actors will be willing to share this connectivity.  I personally can not stress enough the importance of connectivity for the success of any event.  High density events are ‘for your body, your mind and your soul.’

Focusing on creating maximum density

According to the authors maximum density should be a priority for any firm and event manager :

Maximum density is the best combination of resources mobilized for an actor at a given time and place to create the best possible value. (p.115)

Actors and event participants are density seeking.  They want to experience a maximum value-creation. An event manager has to attempt a maximum density experience in both real-time events as a conversation-events by providing opportunities for co-operative relationships which will bond and connect people even beyond the physical boundaries of the event itself.  Think about the event Music for life.  The radiostation Studio Brussel has managed to create density throughout Flanders for many actors, resulting in co-creative value beyond the event itself.  Unfortunately, they have not succeeded in establishing a physically visual element to this actor-2-actor success story.

Concluding, event managers are actually ‘designers for maximum density’ both in the real-time event as in the conversation-event.  When successful participants will create and share co-creative values in an advantageous way.  A workable starting-point is the “why-question” which will make extra value visible and feasible.  This valuable information will make the event ‘denser’.  The second step is to concentrate on ecosystems, large and small, within and outside the event.  When taking these two steps into account then the event can be described as :

An event is a service-for-service exchange ecosystem that focuses on creating maximum density for the resource-integrating co-creative actors, connected by shared institutional logics and mutual value creation.

To finish one last thought : Lusch and Vargo have reservations about the popular and often paradigmatic Pine and Gilmore experience economy.  According to Lusch and Vargo any value experience is subjective even the value experience of raw materials and produced goods.  I can agree with Lusch and Vargo to a certain extent, but Pine and Gilmore have introduced experience as an explicit value and therefore their ideas are worthwhile mentioning.  

I am very aware that this blogpost is quite “heavy”, I suppose that is normal if one tries to explain a new mindset while applying it on  event management.  But if it helps to focus on actors or event participants even more, then we are one step further on the road towards S-D logic events.

 

 

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