Tag Archives: enterprise

Content strategy, service design and physical objects

I had the opportunity to begin learning about content strategy in the last two months or so.

I’ll probably have more to say on how this changed my perspective in thinking about a lot of things in another post. Sarah Wachter-Boettcher’s book  Content everywhere: strategy and structure for future-ready content got me started and Jonathon Colman’s Epic List of Content Strategy Resources pointed me to more great resources on the topic.

I might have stumbled across the term content strategy in Milan Guenther’s book Intersection: how enterprise design bridges the gap between business, technology and people. The enterprise design framework uses 20 aspects (organised in 5 layers) of design work in an enterprise context. The second layer, anatomy, includes these aspects: actors, touchpoints, services, content.

I was happy to find a strong element of service design in the framework, but thought emphasising the content aspect odd. Well, maybe for mostly digital services that made sense… But what about (physical) evidence? But then I’ve had issues with overemphasising service evidence, too.

By now I see the point in discussing content (strategy) at this layer in the framework, but I still feel uneasy about the (state of the discussion) of physical objects in service design. (Or am I just not reading the right stuff or talking to the right people?) Thinking of physical objects (including goods, physical products) as vehicles for provisioning services (as discussed by Dave Gray, among others) seems promising. Physical objects can certainly also be vehicles for delivering content. (We could also view content delivery as a type of services.) And then there’s a role for physical objects in a service evidence context (in a narrow sense, please).

Is it time to bring these thoughts together and elevate the discussion of physical objects in service design?

2014-09-21: Tom Graves has written a brilliant post titled From Product To Service.

The need for shared-value propositions

A shared purpose draws people to connected companies (Gray, 2012, p. 218, 253) and the larger-than-the-organisation shared enterprise (Graves, 2010, p. 13).

In Tom’s Enterprise Canvas, the value proposition links a service to the shared enterprise’s purpose, i.e. it explains how the service contributes to achieving this shared purpose. The service’s purpose is delivering this proposed value to…whom?

Traditionally, a value proposition focuses on value delivered to customers, but as Dave, Tom and others argue, this view is too narrow in this increasingly connected society (note that I didn’t say economy): today an effective value proposition needs to consider the value delivered to all stakeholders, including employees, partners and customers (there are more).

In other words: An effective value proposition must be a a shared-value proposition.

Adapting an idea by IDEO, a sustainable service delivering such a value proposition must strike an effective balance between human desirability, commercial viability and technical feasibility. Such an effective balance must be achieved not only for the provider of the service-under-discussion but also for all other stakeholders such as customers, partners, suppliers, etc.


Graves, T. (2010) Mapping the enterprise: modelling the enterprise as services with the enterprise canvas. Tetradian Books.

Gray, D. (2012) The connected company. O’Reilly.

Prepaid services in the Enterprise Canvas

Tom Graves answered a set of questions I asked on Twitter in a blog post in great depth. Thank you for that.

I’m afraid my focus is still in the commercial area and I argue from an organisational point of view in this post. Bear with me, please.

I’m still chewing on how to model a prepaid service (say a prepaid mobile phone service) adequately in the Enterprise Canvas.

Well, my first attempt failed spectacularly–see Tom’s post for that. In his response, Tom suggested a fractal model of the overall service, but I’m afraid I’m missing a few hints before I can see how this works on a very concrete level. While I was content with the notion of fractal services, I turned to Mapping the Enterprise (Graves, 2010, p. 55) for further insight:

Customer-Relations (customer-side/future): build and maintain relationships with potential and/or actual ‘customer’ service-consumer entities, mainly about what may or should happen in the future, and to communicate the Value-Proposition in relation to the enterprise vision.

Value-Return (customer-side/past): receive balance or compensation from ‘customer’ entities (e.g. payment for goods)

In the context of a prepaid service, “what may or should happen in the future” might just be the operative phrase here. A customer’s prepayment of a service (i.e. the creation of a balance/credit on the customer account) can, I think, be understood as a statement as to what should happen in the future (“I am entitled to 100 mins of national phone calls from your mobile network by this prepayment.”). In fact, that’s the way financial accounting looks at this scenario and forces the service provider to create financial provisions for the service obligation. Thus I think it might be possible to look at the prepayment-transaction as part of the Customer-Relations cell.

Value-Creation is then all about fulfilling the service obligation (the service promise) and enabling the customer to make those 100 mins of phone calls.

As a consequence, Value-Return (from a financial perspective) occurs when the service provider dissolves these provisions (and recognises revenue) after the customer made her calls–minute by minute if the customer so chooses. Of course, there’s much more to value creation and value returns than the monetary/financial perspective.

Interestingly, the monetary & financial aspects of value return are now aligned with these important relationship-oriented aspects of value return. And value return does indeed happen after the value creation activity of enabling the customer’s phone calls.

Tom, what do you think?


Graves, T. (2010) Mapping the enterprise: modelling the enterprise as services with the enterprise canvas. Tetradian Books.