The mountain of tomorrow

A toolset for building recurring long-term relationships through mutual understanding

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Innovation is one of the most important aspects in both the business and the design environment, because of one reason: everything changes. Markets are never stable, customers’ needs and wishes change and technology evolves. This leaves companies with the option to either adapt to the ever-changing conditions they are exposed to or to be changed in the face of competitive pressure.

However, innovation should happen in the right direction. The idea of innovating just for the sake of growth is outdated and obsolete. The world is out of balance and our current economy is failing us, which means that it is of high importance that we move towards a balance in which we meet the needs of all within the means of our planet.

Outside Inc. tries to contribute to this highly ambitious goal by creating innovation acceleration programs together with existing organisations that will help them find new products and services. These programs combine the entrepreneurial qualities of people with a more sustainable and social mind-set.

In order to make a real impact, Outside Inc. currently needs to grow. Not necessarily grow to become the biggest or the most profitable, but grow to become more resilient. They believe that this growth should be accomplished by creating more recurring long-term relationships instead of the single short-term relationship that are currently mostly formed with their clients.

An extensive research was conducted in order to generate insights into why client relationships are mostly single short-term. A company analysis, a case study of 8 cases and a client analysis based on 6 interviews and 2 observations uncovered, among other insights, three underlying reasons: a miss-alignment in the expectations, a diminishing of the perceived added value and a doubt about the effectiveness of the program.

In order to provide the first step towards solving these problems, a toolset is developed. This toolset consists of a workshop format, an A1 canvas and a set of cards that function as a conversation facilitation tool. The toolset is to be used in a kick-off session at the beginning of a project by the core-team. This core-team exists of two program managers and one to three representatives of the client.

By using this toolset together with the core-team, Outside Inc. program managers are able to manage the expectations, provide proper demarcation, build an understanding of the client, make the client co-owner of the process and provide a foundation for a possible new fit in the future.

Furthermore, Outside Inc. is advised to continue with the improvement of their own identity and value proposition. By doing so, Outside Inc. can make the fit between the client and the value proposition easier and more adaptable to the evolution of the client.
It is also advised that Outside Inc. continues to do more client research then before. Not only by means of traditional customer research (e.g. evaluation forms/surveys etc.) but also by personally interviewing clients after approximately 1 year after finishing the program. By doing so, Outside Inc. gains valuable information but also builds a new connection with the client that could result in future programs, which could in turn, result in a recurring long-term relationship.