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SDGC17 | Joe MacLeod: ENDS: when we're finished with products and services

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Published on Jan 2, 2018

Ends. Why they are critical to improving consumption. How many services have you started, designed, launched and built a customer base for? Do you have the same passion for ending them appropriately? Does it matter? Most experiences in life are punctuated by a closure experience - an ending. In the past these were profound; however, over generations we have distanced ourselves from meaningful endings thanks to our lifestyles increasing in comfort, the church weakening and medicine advancing. The impact of this has been particularly acute in our consumer society, where as providers and consumers we are happy to overlook endings; excited to move on to the next product or service experience. This has created a cultural oversight in our personal responsibility and a vulnerability in our businesses. We witness this at scale in some of the services; industries biggest problems - mis-selling of financial services is now common place. PPI in the UK alone accounts for £35bn according to the FT. 1 in 4 UK pensions are going missing according to the charity Age Concern. Lost in decades of mis-management, mergers and acquisitions and the normal changes over a person's life. A surprising amount of old people are getting their first tattoo, fearful someone will bring them back to life after the Do Not Resuscitate agreement fails. Paying off mortgages, the biggest personal debts in our lives, should be a celebration. Instead all the thanks we get is often a cold letter to say it's finished. Well designed and thoughtful endings help us reflect, take responsibility and move on coherently, but sadly the service industry is awash with bad endings. Joe Macleod introduces the theme of his Ends book at the SDN 2017 conference. He makes a compelling case that demonstrates how, over centuries, our changing relationship with death has led to the loss of our relationship with endings. Giving rise to guilt-free consumers, an overly-blamed business sector and a society which finds itself at a loss when it needs to grapple with responsibility. Drawing on a plethora of sources in history, sociology, psychology and industry, he argues that we are taking the wrong approach to challenging the impacts of consumption and that we need to create coherent endings in our product, service and digital experiences to rebalance this.

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