Service Dominant Orientation

Service Dominant Orientation


A typical morning in a big city is filled with people that appear to be in need. You can hear a woman say “I need a coffee”, in the streets you can see people hailing a cab because they need to get to work. A school bus passes with children who need education, stores are filled with people buying things they need.




It’s clear that people are driven by the fulfillment of their needs and desires. Maslow understood this and theorized about it. We have needs and we want to satisfy them. To become happy and the best version of ourselves, particular needs should be met, like having a roof above our heads, feeling safe in our environment, being healthy, feeling appreciated by friends, etc.

Nowadays people try to meet a lot of their desires by buying things, we consume. But it’s very important to point out that ‘ownership’ of these goods won’t solve our quest for need satisfaction.

For example, you dream of a beautiful garden with a perfect lawn. Most people immediately think of buying a lawn mower. But you can just as well borrow your neighbor’s mower; you don’t have to own one to achieve your goal.


Airbnb is an example of collaborative consumption

We live in a consumer society, and that mindset has led to a focus on short-term desire satisfaction and overconsumption. But there is a way to think differently and we are all responsible for this change, as an individual, organization and government. We can accomplish this evolution by changing our strategy. The goal shouldn’t be ownership and goods. We should abandon this idea and start thinking out of the box. It’s possible to be more efficient by changing our business models and act more responsible. And by doing so it’s even possible to participate in de betterment of our society and ‘give back’ as an organization to the world.

Instead of designing more stuff, to act responsible we should design less stuff. Instead of being focused on materialization, our focus should be on dematerialization and better need satisfaction at the same time.
Nowadays organizations try to reach and inform customers via advertisements and brochures. Imagine now that people are willing to pay for your information brochure because it’s an inspirational magazine. This implicates a completely different business model.


Service Dominant Logic paves the way in this new evolution. The world is shifting from a goods dominant logic to this new mindset. Instead of focusing on goods distribution, customers expect experiences through services. Goods are seen as distribution mechanisms for service provision. The customer wants to be co-creator of this experience and value is generated in this co-productive process. The consumer wants to sit at the steering wheel of his or her own life. Times are changing, customers are living an on-line lifestyle and they’re more than ever informed about what’s happening on a global level. So as an organization, it’s important to see the essence of using these operant resources to grow and emerge rapidly.



Now is the time to build relationships with customers, engage them and learn from them. Service is becoming the fundamental basis of exchange, so it’s crucial as an organization to have a clear view on what customers expect of this service. It must be clear how your organization fits into the lives on your customer. By creating a meaningful dialogue it’s possible to not only gather this information but also to stay flexible and keep adapting to changes in the environment.


How can an organization practice this theory?

Organizations should get to know their customers as individuals and understand their needs and desires so they can create the best experience-of-one. As said before, it’s crucial to create a meaningful dialogue, build a rapport with your service network partners, as customers should be seen, and engage with them in a fair and non-opportunistic way. This way confidence will be inspired and a trusted environment will emerge where both parties feel comfortable to learn from and listen to each other. Customers are motivated to help shape the nature and content of the service processes while organizations give them the ingredients to develop more knowledge and competences, like for example workshops and online discussion platforms. The organization is responsible for the focus on the process flow. It should facilitate the coordination and integration of the service flows toward individual customers. All these capabilities make up the service dominant orientation, the application of service dominant logic in the field.


Does this sound familiar, is this the way your organisation works on a daily basis? Or do you know others that try to make the difference? Please share these wonderful examples with the world and help inspire more social innovation!


Want to learn more about Service Dominant Orientation? Click here!

By Kaat Lavaerts