[Interview] Joe Pine on Mass Customization, His Hands-On Workshop And His Newest Project

PineLast week we hinted you at a great series of hands-on workshops by Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore. Now we had the chance to get some of Joe Pine's precious time for a short yet insightful interview on Mass Customization, his workshops and what the new project he is working on right now.  

FTP: Joe, with Mass Customization being the business trend of the decade (at least!) there are a myriad of workshops by a lot of more or less qualified experts. While you are without doubt one of the best to learn from, can you go into detail a bit about what sets your workshop apart from the competition?

JP: My "How To Mass Customize Your Offerings" Workshop on May 30, 2013 — the last of a series of six "how to" workshops my partner Jim Gilmore and I are doing — is based on the ideas and frameworks that I have developed over the past 20 years since Mass Customization was first published. So one is this grounding in my core frameworks. The second differentiation is the how to part; it will be a workshop where participants (not attendees) actually get to wrestle with those frameworks and develop ideas for their own businesses. And finally, it will be solely focused on mass customizing goods; those who wish to mass customize services and especially experiences will also gain great value!

FTP: You are one of those with a hand on the pulse of MC-Development. Not to take away from your workshop of course, but are there any exciting new developments or trends that you can give our readers a little exclusive hint at?

JP: One new framework I have — never published — shows that mass customizing down to the individual, living, breathing customers is not the end goal! It's not just about serving markets of one, where every customer is his own market. No, we need to reach further and recognize that every customer is multiple markets. We need to recognize what market an individual customer — and this applies especially to business customers — is in before we can hope to mass customize to meet that customers' needs at this moment in time.

I also believe the rise of digital manufacturing in general and 3D printers in particular opens up huge new avenues for Mass Customization now and into the future, something I actually get into in my first workshop, How To Stage Engaging Digital Experiences, on December 6, 2012. 

FTP: You have been following the MC idea for a long time now. While the idea certainly evolved from a niche concept to a mass(!) movement, what do you think will the future hold for MC and its implications especially on the retail landscape?

JP: I fully believe that Mass Customization will be as important to 21st-century businesses as Mass Production was to 20th-century businesses. And if you think about the fact that Ford Motor Company did not pull everything together into the first Mass Production assembly line until October 1913, we still have long way to go! And one direction to go in is to bring Mass Customization into retail stores themselves, such as we already see with companies such as Build-A-Bear, Paris Miki, Lenscrafters, and the like. Absent that possibility, retailers need to put design tools into their stores to form the core of a design experience, such as done by Nike, adidas, Bloomingdales, and so forth.

FTP: You are well-known for a number of great books on MC. Are you, by chance, working on something new for those eagerly awaiting a new volume from your hands?

JP: But of course! I am always thinking and working on something new, and in this case it is working with my Infinite Possibility co-author, Kim Korn, who has developed some compelling insights and amazing frameworks around what management needs to become to meet today's corporate needs. As Mass Customization is supplanting Mass Production, we al2so need to supplant the old command-and-control ways of managing, yielding what Kim calls "regenerative managing," the goal of which is simple: to thrive indefinitely. 

By | 2018-06-14T06:49:20+00:00 November 26th, 2012|Books, Customization Trends, Events, Interview|

About the Author:

Frank T. Piller is a Co-Director of the MIT Smart Customization Group at the MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and a chair professor of management at the Technology & Innovation Management Group of RWTH Aachen University, Germany, one of Europe’s leading institutes of technology. Before entering his recent position in Aachen, he worked at the MIT Sloan School of Management (2004-2007) and has been an associate professor of management at TUM Business School, Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Frequently quoted in The New York Times, The Economist, and Business Week, amongst others, Frank is regarded as one of the leading experts on strategies for customer-centric value creation, like mass customization, personalization, and innovation co-creation. His recent analysis of the crowdsourcing business model “Threadless” (co-authored with Susumu Ogawa), an innovative crowdsourcing business model in the fashion industry, has been elected as one of the Top-20 articles in MIT Sloan Management Review.