Sunday, 28 August 2011

Article publié le Mercredi 9 juin 2004./ Initially published on 09 June 2004 in L’Express   
( Article also referenced on the official site of Tom Peters on : )                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Dreaming of the art of refinement

                                                    We are not in vacuums…We all live in environments, interior and exterior. From the very moment our eyes open till we prepare ourselves to go to bed again, we are overwhelmed with what we see, hear, smell and feel… We are continuously being guided by our individual tastes to take decisions, choosing our interior deco, looking for convenient food, selecting our clothes, buying our appliances…

What really turns us, as customers on, and truly satisfy us? Our business leaders tend to focus much attention on issues like business process reengineering, matching core-competencies with operational capabilities, defining matrix structures for effective knowledge-based organizations…We tend to be quite far from our customer-base and fail to listen to them attentively. What provides Value to our customers? Value is provided simply by satisfying needs. In our modern, (sadly!) materialistic world, where most consumers have met their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, Value is and will be more and more provided by satisfying customer’s sophisticated aesthetic needs.

Aesthetics is not an about esotery or mysticism! It’s just about the vitality of providing opportunities for organizations to appeal to customers through a variety of sensory experiences and thus benefit both the customer and the organization though enhanced satisfaction and loyalty.

Ideally speaking, aesthetics management should begin with a thorough status quo, an AS-IS analysis of every aspect of a company’s or brand visual and sensory identity to project necessary aesthetic outputs (corporate expressions) while identifying how customers perceive the organization’s current inputs (corporate impressions). A comprehensive Corporate Brand Strategy can thus be built on the foundations of such an audit.

Style, Themes, Symbols, Form, Shape, Design, Function, Senses, Colour, Sound, Textures, Scents, Feel, Lifestyle, Technology are just samples of elements that may participate in defining aesthetic strategies for forward looking brands…

Of all so called management gurus, Tom Peters is the most sensitive to design and aesthetics issues. In his book “Liberation Management”, he thus devotes an entire chapter to issues of design. He has compiled a list of 140 items, entitled “Design is…” :

– An easy-to-use FedEx airbill

– The formal position of the Chief Designer on the Corporate Organization Chart

– Great Brochures

– Part of everyday vocabulary throughout the organization

The British Design Council has for instance taken a central role in integrating design management issues in all walks of Industry. As early as in the 90s, this organization stressed that design was an essential ingredient for competitiveness. What an intelligent link between Design Management and International Competitivity! This coordinated effort even acknowledges that innovation and creative activity is not only the realm of designers and creative people. The entire organization should be made aware of the language of design and aesthetics. The mission of the British Design Council reading as “To inspire the best use of design by the UK, in the world context, to improve prosperity and well-being” gives us an idea how things are taken seriously.

What do we have here? Design and aesthetics should permeate all walks of our life in Mauritius if we want to be a country in tune with its time. But if we have a mere look at our external environments, we are very far from perfection! Landscaping, for example, is under-used. Just imagine the various species of plants and trees that could be used to beautify our public spaces, roadsides, round-abouts and parks – supplying fresh oxygen to our polluted spaces, complementing shadows for pedestrians, refreshing the eyes of local residents and tourists alike! We are just now starting to have some bus-stop booths with some form of design…

What about interiors of reception areas and office halls? In some places, you can really feel the importance of aesthetics and refinement, but at times, especially in the public sector, you are welcome, without any welcoming note, by a dull receptionist, without even a smile and a pot of artificial flower with dusted petals! Do we want to wake up one day to note that we were not just having a nightmare?

Ashraf Oozeerally

Managing Director, eye_dentity

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