Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pleasure Principle

In this post, I want to provide some further analysis of Jeff Schneider's useful diagram, which he produced on the first day of the SPARK workshop. (See my blog and his blog.)

Source: Jeff Schneider
I interpret the upper half of the diagram in terms of an ecological service design principle I identified in my book on the Component-Based Business. I call this principle the Pleasure Principle. (There is a loose link to Freud's use of the term.)

The Pleasure Principle is about the balance of attention and excitement. Some services provide value (and may experience phenomenal growth) by being exciting, while others provide value (and may experience more steady growth) by being reliable.

I read Jeff's diagram as having high excitement towards the top-left, and low excitement towards the top-right.

High excitement services have "sizzle" and are sometimes called "lean-forward". Low excitement services are "lean-back", and may be designed on the "principle of least astonishment". We may expect entirely different value pricing models for the two types of service. (Economists use a statistical pricing method called Hedonic Pricing, which appears to be a combination of QFD with the pleasure principle.)

Is it possible to have both excitement and reliability at the same time? This is a major question for Web 2.0, and part of the challenge for the supply-side (in the lower half of Jeff's diagram).

I think the answer to this question is an architectural one. We need a stratification which decouples the excitement from the reliability. This is why my view of architecture for SOA and web 2.0 is based on the business stack. See my SPARK notes.

The other big question which hung over the SPARK workshop was the division (true or false) between B2B and B2C. Must we equate the consumer side with high-excitement low-reliability and the corporate side with high-reliability low-excitement? Those (including myself) who see the potential convergence between SOA and Web 2.0 are required to find ways to deconstruct this false division.

One thing that may perpetuate this division, at least in the short term, is the difficulty of turning value into money. (This is sometimes called Monetization, presumably in honour of the painter Monet.) Many service providers differentiate between corporates who are mostly willing to pay, and consumers who mostly aren't. And the best way to get a decent revenue stream in the short term may be to provide a superior (= more reliable) service to the paying customers. But how can we think about the longer-term, without falling into the folly of the dotCom era?

The pleasure principle provides a way of integrating two important elements of service management: service design and service pricing. But the details need more working out. Anyone want to help?


Jeff Schneider, A View of Competing Interests and Concerns (19 March 2006)

Wikipedia: Hedonic Pricing, Monet, Pleasure_principle_(psychology), Quality Function Deployment (QFD)

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