Goods – a resource mix element

Dr. Adam Tacy PhD, MBA avatar

Editing below here

Goods are examples of operand resources. Remember that in order to make progress with these types of resources, they must be acted upon. They are usually physical, tangible objects. Although we can have digital goods such as digital films, music, and e-books, etc.

The distinguishing feature of goods in the progress economy is that ownership of them is permanently transferred from the progress helper to the progress seeker.

And it is important to appreciate that goods are simply another component of the progress resource mix. We don’t see any goods vs services debate (as we do in traditional thinking). Imagine, for example, the functional progress you are seeking is to physically travel from point A to B. Then you could:

  • buy and drive a car – a mix heavy on goods
  • rent and drive a car – a mix heavy on physical resource (ownership of the car is not transferred to the seeker), or
  • use a ride share service – a mix comprising employee, physical resource, and systems

These are all equivalent offerings on the progress proposition continuum of enabling to relieving progress propositions.

This thinking is possible because our underlying service-dominant logic informs us that:

Goods are distribution mechanisms for service provisionservice-dominant logic foundation premise #3

But what does that mean? To me, that means goods freeze skills and knowledge. Allowing them to be moved through time and space and unfrozen (applied/integrated with) by the seeker as needed. Let’s explore this a little more.

freezing and unfreezing service

Let’s start with a simple example. When you listen to a band perform at a concert, you are experiencing the direct result of the band (employees of a progress resource mix)) putting their skills and knowledge of how to play instruments to use. And you’re doing it where the band is playing and at the same time.

Whereas when you listen to a recording of the band, you are no longer at the same place or time as the performance. Instead, the performance above has been frozen in a recording studio onto tape/cd/vinyl (goods) or as a digital goods. When you press the play button on your playback device, the performance, that has been transported to your when and where, is unfrozen.

However, I’ll admit, that was a simple example. And there’s a little hint in there that goods may not freeze exsctly the same as the equivalent goods-light mix. They might require the seeker to acquire and co=ordinate several goods-heavy mixes. In the above a seeker also needs a playback device. A goods that captures the skills/knowledge on how to take a recording and turn it into audio.

Goods freeze the application of skills and knowledge for distribution…but it can introduce complexity and increase expectations on seekers’ skills and knowledge CLICK TO TWEET

Consider now what turns out to be a much more complex case. The simple functional progress sought of hanging a picture on a wall.

An obvious goods-light mix for this is hiring a handyman. But it’s hard to freeze a handyman’s skills and knowledge into one goods. Instead, they are spread over several goods-heavy propositions:

  • Finding an appropriate place in the wall to make a hole -the seeker needs:
    • knowledge of what makes an aesthetically pleasing position to hang a picture 
    • a goods that helps measure and mark where to make a hole 
    • a goods that captures skill of finding hidden water/electric cables in the wall
  • Making a hole in a wall – the seeker needs:
    • knowledge of the wall type
    • a goods that captures the skills to make a hole in a wall of that type (often a drill)
  • Securing the hook in the wall – the seeker needs: 
    • a goods that freezes knowledge of securing a hook into a wall (let’s call it a wall plug)
    • knowledge that different wall plugs are needed depending on wall type
    • knowledge of wall type and weight of picture since that also determines which type of wall plug

It’s become surprisingly more complex. Now we can see that goods-heavy mixes are often a trait of enabling propositions on the progress proposition continuum. And why the other end of the continuum has what we call relieving propositions.

implications of goods in the service mix

When using goods in the progress resource mix, there are a few things to keep in mind. Several of which are reflected in the progress proposition continuum.

The progress proposition continuum of enabling to relieving propositions. Showing the implications on/of the service mix, non-functional progress sought, and which actor drives the activities involved in the process of making progress.
The progress proposition continuum of enabling to relieving propositions. Showing the implications on/of the service mix, non-functional progress sought, and which actor drives the activities involved in the process of making progress.

And they are neither good or bad things. As always it depends on what progress – functional, non-functional and contextual – a seeker is trying to make.

An enabling proposition, with its goods-heavy mix, may entice a seeker looking for a sense of self-actualisation or achievement. And, since the seeker will own the goods, they will not be held up or restricted from making progress whenever they want. Compared that to engaging with an employee-heavy mix, where there are likely to be limited times available and frequently waiting lists.

Similarly, goods-heavy mixes place higher requirements on seeker’s having the necessary knowledge/skills. Both to use the goods and to know what other goods are necessary to successfully make progress. And let’s not forget, the seeker needs to know what activities to perform and when. There’s a risk to quickly raise the lack of resource progress hurdle

As we saw, goods-heavy mixes place a greater requirement on the seeker’s knowledge/skills. Both on how to use the goods and to understand what other goods are required to make progress. Not to mention that the seeker must understand what activities to perform and when. 

There is a risk of quickly raising the resource progress barrier.

However, this barrier can be lowered by providing instructions (the proposed activities of the progress proposition). Or instructional videos of the goods in use can be made available by the helper (and other forms of education/training depending on complexity/seeker desires).

Again, some seekers may enjoy the challenge of determining how to use the items. This is, afterall, how propositions arise. These seekers might use sites like youtube to show the goods in use.

More risk adverse seekers may prefer propositions at the relieving end of the continuum. There the lack of resource hurdle instinctively, but not necessarily, should be the lowest. The risk of them feeling they will do something wrong is also minimised. 

It’s for the above reasons that misalignment between a proposition and a seeker’s desires on the continuum is a progress hurdle.

Another factor to consider is seekers’ access to latest technology. Offering goods means the seeker is the owner. And, because there is always a service exchange, owning a good entails providing a service to someone. Typically a larger service commitment than, say, using the same good without owning it (a physical resource). Upgrading a product to the most recent technology entails providing even more service. Something the seeker may decide is excessive. This provision of service elsewhere is, indeed, one of our hurdles to progress.

Finally, offering goods in the progress resource mix can also obscure progress made (or not) from the progress helper. Because the helper is involved in fewer, if any, of the activities involved in making progress. As a result, the progress helper misses out on useful in-use feedback. And misses opportunities to recover from, or reduce, value co-destruction. The helper needs to find other routes to do that. And seekers are not shy at finding ways to complain about their misuse of resources as a problem of the helper…such as on-line review sites or social media.

goods innovation

There’s always room to innovate existing goods or to find new goods. Though care needs to be taken to not fall into the “add yet another razor blade” syndrome. 

Hopefully you can see from our discussion here that goods innovation should be a relatively small part of your focus.

Now we’ll shift to the last element of the service mix – physical resources. And we’ll see that goods may also be a part of that, with a key change.

Physical resources
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