Episode 5 – Joe Pine

Another amazing episode of #21for21: Carola and Marco speak with Joe Pine, about experience, transformation and thriving forever.

Listen to the episode below 👇 🎧

🎤 Human beings crave experiences, crave social situations and being around other people… over the past year we’ve moved from out-there to in-here from experiences to experiences, from social and communal experiences to more private and familial experiences and from physical experiences to digital experiences. But we still want those experiences. As things open up, we’ll see a lot of pent-up demand for getting out again, being able to have social and meaningful experiences out there in the real world.”

🎤 “For the re-release of The Experience Economy we’ve added a time model. The most precious resource in the world is time of individual human beings. Too often, what companies do is waste people’s time.”

🎤 “Transformations are a distinct economic offering. We can be that force for good by helping people achieve their aspirations for themselves as well as for the world. For the communities and organizations and businesses that they belong to.”

Joe shows us a future full of possibilities, and inspires us with his vision:
“Dear Future, I’m Ready: to be a force for transformation, creating value for humanity. But I can’t do it myself! I will do all I can to affect others so that they can be a force for change and thrive forever. So that they can affect others so that they can be a force for change and thrive forever. And so on, and so on, and so on.”

About Joe Pine

Joe Pine is an internationally acclaimed author, speaker, and management advisor. He is the co-founder of the Strategic Horizons LLP, the home of the experience economy, where he and his team help executives to see the world’s differently and wrote many books include Mass Customization, Authenticity, Infinite Possibility, and of course, The Experience Economy, Competing For Customer Time, Attention, and Money.

Links and more

Episode transcript

Carola Verschoor 1:29
Joe, it’s such a pleasure to have you here. Welcome to our show.

Joe Pine 1:30
Thank you, I really appreciate that and a very nice introduction.

Marco van Hout 1:33
Hi, Joe. This is Marco. As you know #21for21 is a podcast about transformation and this is happening right now and it is complex. And this is why we are talking to 21 transformational leaders like yourself, people who are ahead of the curve to whom we can ask what diffused like from their perspective to inspire us in this transformational journey.

Carola Verschoor 1:56
This is why today we talk with Joe Pine about experience and transformation. So, Joe, we’re in a context in which everything seems to be transforming, and speaking about being ahead of the curve, you’ve already warned us quite some time ago that we would move from the experience economy into the transformation economy. We are hoping that you can bring clarity to all of what is happening in our context, what’s your take on it? What’s going on?

Joe Pine 2:23
Well, it’s been an amazing year of what’s happening and there have been a lot of discussions, some articles and newspapers, and so forth about the death of the experience economy because of COVID-19. But in fact, of course, it’s not people, we’re human beings, we crave experiences, we crave social situations and being around other people. So just over the past year, and now opening up here, particularly in the US and other places, we just moved from out there to in here from social and communal experiences to more private familial experiences and from physical experiences to digital experiences but we still want those experiences. So as things open up, will continue to see a huge amount of pent-up demand, in fact, for getting out again, for being able to have social and meaningful experiences out there in the real world.

Carola Verschoor 3:29
Wow, I’m looking forward to that already.

Joe Pine 3:31
Yeah, definitely.

Carola Verschoor 3:32
As our listeners know, I’m a Latin American. And for me, the world has been exponential from the moment I took my first breath. I think it applies to many of us and it’s quite fascinating, because as a creative I think, if all of us are now individually experiencing things, the moment that we can connect to one another and share those experience will be fabulous in terms of what we can co-create, what we can rediscover not only through our own experiences but through the experiences of others that are going to give us new perspective which brings us of course to the topic of transformation. Do you have a definition for transformation?

Joe Pine 4:14
Well, transformation is any change in a person and a community and an organization, a business, and either degree or kind. My transformations are, in fact, may be different for every other transformation that you’re talking to. What’s important to understand that transformations are a distinct economic offer as distinct from experiences, as experiences are from services, services from goods, and goods from commodities, you know, transformations are when an individual or a business hires a company basically, to achieve its aspirations through a set of transformative experiences. They guide them along a path from where they were to what they want to be.

Carola Verschoor 5:01
And that has a social component as well in the sense that we need one another’s perspective because you can’t push your own envelope so you can’t just go to the edge of whatever it is you’re doing and figure it out all by yourself. First of all, that there’s no experience in that because you can’t ask the questions you didn’t know you had and on the other hand, it’s really a collaborative endeavor, isn’t it?

Joe Pine 5:24
Well, I’ll say there are some transformations that can be very individual, you know, I’m thinking about my golf game, for example, I’m trying desperately to improve. It’s me with my instructor, my coach. All coaches are in the transformation business, and me practicing and working on my swing but in large measure. You certainly can’t change it in a vacuum, what I spend on my golf game, takes away from other experiences I might be having with my wife, with my extended family, and so forth. And then many transformations, you particularly think of businesses of organizations of communities of the world are very much how you describe that there are social things that have to be handled with a community of people.

Marco van Hout 6:15
I think if you look at the social part of the transformation, it’s also about perception. I remembered at one point, when you talked about experiences, you really refer to authenticity as people want to be able to see the fake from the phony, and they questioned the authenticity of that experience. In the transformation economy, I think we probably will encounter similar threats. So for example, an oil company, does that company really want to transform towards a clean energy provider? Does that vintage clothing app really want to keep people from buying clothes? Or does that Fortune 500 company really want to empower women with their diversity and inclusion program? So my question is, what do you think is needed in order to create meaningful and lasting change so how can we distinguish the fake from the phony, as you mentioned, in the transformation economy?

Joe Pine 7:13
Well, there’s so much greenwashing what you’re alluding to and there’s also so much virtue signaling that we want to signal our virtue rather than be an actual force for transformation but in our book on Authenticity, what we position it is the consumer sensibility for the experience economy that every economy had a particular consumer sensibility. You know, just real quickly that with the growing economy and commodities, it was availability, getting your products to market with the industrial economy and goods, it was costly. You had to control your cost to create that mass market out there. And with the service economy, it was quality that became job one for all sorts of companies. And then with the experience economy, it really is the authenticity that as you said that people no longer want the fake from the phony, they want the real from the genuine, and they seek that across any economic dock from commodities, like organic produce, all the way up to the transformations that they need to be authentic.

I’m coming to the conclusion that with the transformation economy, hot on the heels of the experience economy is that the new consumer sensibility will be meaningful. A word you just used in the question that we want to buy from companies, we want to buy offerings and buy them in places that align with the meaning that we seek in our own lives, our own meaningful purpose whether we actually have ever thought about what that is, you don’t have to think about what it is, you have to know what it is. It’s there, no matter what and the question is does that align with what you’re buying because if not, you get to sort of cognitive business. So you’re looking for those companies that match who you are as an individual and what you seek in terms of meaning in your life.

Carola Verschoor 9:14
Yeah, we read your books and follow your work and from my company transformational studio. We regularly research how people create meaning, co-create meaning and what they attribute meaning to, and what we started seeing as part of the COVID crisis is that at the layer of meaning, people are starting to rise probably above and beyond status. So the things that people attribute meaning to a link to connection, caring for others, caring for oneself, having time for those endeavors that they kept pushing away from themselves, doing things that make the world a better place so it seems that there’s also a very large craving, this perhaps post materialistic you could say, view of meaning creation, but that has always been there and that seems to be really irreplaceable to a degree.

Joe Pine 10:16
You are right when you said post materialistic, my friend James Wallman who founded the world experience organization. He wrote a book called Stuffocation where he juxtaposes against experientialism instead of materialism. It’s the experiences that we have that matter then, and but of course, that becomes another level of status. I mean, everything that you cannot get away from status. It’s a human characteristic. Yes, the fault, largely but nonetheless, it’s there. So that’s interesting with transformations, then you go from materialism to experientialism to transformationalism, I suppose would be the right term that is happening, although of course, it’s always a slow shift and a slower shift than you think.

Carola Verschoor 11:15
Yes, it is but at the same time in Marco’s question next to meaning was the aspect of things that last, and recently a friend of mine will turn 50 she said, I have too much stuff. And she said, can you please give me experiences as a present. It took her more than a year to unpack her presents because they were experiences. So she and I went on a course, that she really wanted to follow someone else. They went to learn to bake bread. They went on those small weekends away so it took her a whole year.

So there’s also this lasting thing in that experience, and especially when they are transformative, take more savoring, take more time to consume, and therefore you’re not only experiencing, but you’re also building memories, you’re building awareness. And that’s where the transformative power lies and this links also to something that we like to say a lot together with Marco that is, if you can dream it, you can do it. So it starts also with a vision, and a vision on what are really the fundamental things that we need to take on board when we start in the process of transformation so what was your vision on that if you were to imagine a world that is better, kinder, more sustainable, more meaningful, of course, how would you describe that possible future?

Joe Pine 12:49
Well, I’m always an optimist and so I think the future is like our world, you know, only with the tools to make it a bit better every day. And frankly, our biggest problem is that too many of us have forgotten God and worship false idols in our lives and in our businesses. One of the things you related that we added in the new book, the re-release, for The Experienced Economy that came out last year is a time model. I think it’s one of those tools that we need to understand that you know, the most precious resource on the planet is the time of individual human beings. And you just talked about with your friend and spending time and too often what companies do is they waste people’s time.

You think about the call centers, you call to try and get you off the phone before you ever actually talked to somebody and don’t always resolve your problems, you’re waiting in lines to get things done, and so forth. We got to stop wasting people’s time, so they can use that time, and then also what services are all about is time well saved that what we want it to be a nice, easy, convenient interaction. We want to get in and out as quickly as possible but experiences are about time well saved [editor’s note: Joe mentioned saved, but was actually referring to ‘time well spent’] that people actually value the time that they spend and that’s what you’re talking about with your friend’s gifts to took more than a year to open, I like how you said that. But transformations are about time well invested.

We actually investing our time with the transformative experiences that we have that that give us compound interest and pay dividends now and into the future. So your friends takes a baking class, and guess what she becomes a baker, or at least in terms of knowing how to bake bread and so forth. And that’s a tool that businesses need to understand. And again, as a core business guy, so you’re talking to a guy that talks to businesses that’s what I care about and helping them do better. The core thing business needs in terms of thinking about that vision for the future is a new way of managing that keeps companies from falling into mediocrity and eventually failing.

And my colleague Kim Korn and I are working on such a way of managing that we call Regenerative Managing which should enable companies to thrive forever that’s our goal is how can companies thrive forever, by continuing to meet the ever-growing needs of humanity. And that’s how we create that sustainable, meaningful future by focusing on the needs of humanity out there, and how we can help make them happen.

Marco van Hout 15:30
So I love how you just mentioned that transformation is about investing time but I also want to highlight that transformation on a global scale, for example, if you talk about systems change or transformation, time is also of the essence. So with experiences and individual transformation, we choose our time but if time is of the essence, in terms of global transformation, how do you relate that to then? What do we need to do in terms of investing that time?

Joe Pine 16:01
Well, it’s a global transformation that happens because of the transformation of individual human beings and the grouping together, the gathering together, the accumulation of those individual transformations that ends up changing the world. I reminded trying to think of the anthropologist who said this, and her name is not coming to me, she basically said that “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” (Margaret Mead)

Carola Verschoor 16:39
And related to that I also work with business. I’m very fortunate to live in the Netherlands, and in the Netherlands, we have a wonderful public sector, probably one of the best in the world on many levels, but not many countries and myself coming from the global south can definitely attest to that. Not many countries have that privilege and that brings a very important role to business because I really like what you just mentioned which I think is very 2021, there’s a statement that it starts with the individual transformation, then the group transforms, then the organization transforms, then the society transforms, then the world transforms, there’s no passing the bucket, it’s us.

So it’s in each one of us to really have the spirited hope and the entrepreneurial attitude to go make a difference but if you’re in a context, where you feel that it doesn’t matter, whatever it is that you do, won’t make the difference, then you don’t even try to put a dent on the universe. And that’s where businesses come in, and particularly businesses of smaller size. So not necessarily sort of your very large corporations but you see that a lot, and the small and medium enterprise, that it’s really through businesses that society can improve and they’ve gotten a really bad rap but it really does take the entrepreneurs of this world that create jobs for others, that creates new opportunities. And that to my definition of transformation, I link it to the word itself which means across systems and structures so do things in a T-shaped way across the structures, but also to reinvent those systems and structures.

And we’re at a time in which reinvention, redesigned, regeneration are big buzzwords and important words. So business definitely has a role to do that. Do you see a roadmap ahead of you? What are the steps we might take in the next two years, five years, 10 years as we roll up our sleeves and try and change the world for the better?

Joe Pine 18:44
Well, first of all, I want to re-emphasize what you said because it is so right. It is businesses that are the greatest force of good in the world and businesses are simply a coming together of people. It is people that are the greatest force of good in the world. They’re also the greatest force of bad in the world but that’s what we want to try and do is to come together in a good way. So in the next couple of years, I hope that more and more people understand these two things I’ve talked about really is one transformation as its own distinct economic offering. You know, when I first started talking about that 20, 25 years ago, people looked at me like I was sort of crazy. It was too far out there for them at the time and that’s not the case anymore. So understand that transformations are distinct economic offerings, that we can be that force for good by helping people achieve their aspirations for themselves as well as for the world for the communities that they’re in for the organizations for the businesses that they belong to.

And also the next two years that we will have a book on Regenerative Managing that gets people to understand that this is the way forward to go. So that businesses can be that change that they want to see in the world. And in five years, you hope that there’s more of a movement in that direction that people understand the possibilities that are embracing it. And then in 10 years, there’s a concerted change and how thousands of companies, again, small-medium, in particular, large will actually take longer to be able to do and then with a corresponding and tremendous increase in the value that is being created for humanity by humanity.

Carola Verschoor 20:42
Wow. I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s wonderful how it all converges, how it all comes together because it’s companies that are authentic in what they are pursuing. It’s consumers really embracing those transformative experiences that they feel are going to bring us in the right direction. So in the end, it really is an effort in which we all come together towards the regeneration and the creation of the New World. And that touches our designer heart, Marco and I are both designers, as you know..

Marco van Hout 21:17
Experience designers in the past.

Carola Verschoor 21:20
I’ve been all kinds actually service designer, experience designer…

Marco van Hout 21:24
Transformation designer now, we’re following the economic values of Joe Pine here!

Carola Verschoor 21:34
Linking to the design aspect. In design, we like to reframe any challenge that is thrown at us and they are many in using a small tool for reframing that is called “How might we” and essentially ask the question, what is being asked here? So what is they were trying to do? What is the desired outcome of our design and that’s because as designers, the catch-22 of design is that you always design for someone else, and you are not that person. So you can’t even pretend that you understand them. You have to start unpacking the challenge but the thing we find with how might we are that it’s a bit sort of pushing things away from the responsibility of being one of the agents of the change.

So we’ve reframed it at the digital society school into “How might I so that we”, and the magic of this reframe is that when you link it to yourself for the bigger purpose of the things that we accomplish together, how might I do whatever needs to be done so that we together achieve this end result, then the steps become concrete, become action-oriented, become very tangible without necessarily being only short term oriented, but it becomes more real and then there’s traction and then things start happening and then obviously, the next “How might I” so that we appear on the horizon. If you were to have a design question, what would be your “How might I so that we”?

Joe Pine 22:28
What a tough question. I pointed out when Marco said the word “meaning” which is very important in the conversation. Corola, you also just said a word that I think is incredibly important for transformation designers and that’s the word “outcome” is that they are about outcomes. That’s what a transformation is about that. I always say with transformations, the customer is the product, the individual is the product, the change in that individual what it’s all about and that’s the outcome. So I think that how might I so that we really relates to and an outcome that you want to achieve as well. So I guess I’m not sure this is what you’re looking for but I would say how might I better get across these ideas from The Experience Economy to Regenerative Managing, Authenticity, all the other related topics I’ve written about now for over 25 years. So how might I better get across these ideas so that we can have better businesses that create ever-greater value for humanity.

Marco van Hout 24:14
Wonderful, and this value, so this relates many times to growth. What is your vision on growth in terms of businesses and in that context?

Joe Pine 24:28
Well, that gets back to the fact that businesses really ought to have as a fundamental– I’m not sure objective is the right word, more of an axiom and assumption, a fundamental assumption of thriving forever. And, that doesn’t necessarily mean huge growth in profits or even in revenue but it means huge growth in the value that you create for customers, and again, for humanity. So I think that thriving forever is my vision for growth because then human beings will prosper and we’ll be able to solve our problems, we’ll be able to meet our challenges, again, through coming together in businesses and how people ask them to affect that in the world.

Carola Verschoor 25:21
I’ve got good news, and I’ve got bad news for you. So the good news is you’ve done excellent work with your design question, you’ve created a wonderful movement of many like-minded people that heard your rallying call for moving from the experience economy to the transformation economy. You’ve outdone yourself with thriving forever is going to be my new mantra from now on. I love it. How did you manage? I mean, it’s in two words, right? So that’s the bad news. Now you need to start thinking about what comes next. Well, we are all sort of trying to put this into practice and doing our best to keep carrying this forward.

Marco van Hout 25:55
Alright, Joe. So we have a wonderful phrase that we use kind of like a slogan for the digital society school and for this podcast, Dear Future, I’m Ready! and we haven’t promised our audience any answers. We’ve set to generate new questions. I think you also raised in this conversation, so thank you for that and we also would love to hear your Dear Future, I’m Ready! slogan for you personally. Can you finish the sentence Dear Future, I’m Ready by telling us what you feel most ready for in the future?

Joe Pine 26:30
Well, I guess I would just follow on the exact conversation that we’ve had and say, Dear future, I’m ready to be a force for transformation, creating value for humanity but I can’t do it myself. But I will do all I can to affect others. So they can be a force for change and thrive forever so that they can affect others and become a force for change and thrive forever and so on and so on, and so on.

Marco van Hout 27:20
Thank you so much.