Talking to Aldo de Jong

We had a nice time and chat with Aldo de Jong (@aldodj), Co-Founder at Claro Partners and Startupbootcamp IoT & Data. 

Aldo has an educational background in engineering and business. He feels lucky to have developed his career in the innovation and creative industry, where he had the opportunity to work for GE, Eggo (today Piece of Pie) and Smart Design. He then co-founded Claro Partners and Startupbootcamp IoT & Data. He shared how happiness is an important value as a designer, innovator, manager and as an entrepreneur. 


Selected quotes

Looking at the big picture, there are 2 pieces:
> In our work: the happiness of our people, the happiness of our clients. Everybody that we interact with. 
> And also the happiness of the end-user (our client's customer).

Happiness inside Claro Partners

At Claro, all of us are in the overlap of three key domains – social science, experience design and business strategy – which we believe are all essential for successful innovation. Everybody lives in the middle. We have no titles. And no titles has to do with happiness at work. People can contribute where ever they want. There are no restrictions. 
If you are empowered, you are happier. Let me share a personal story: one of our new colleagues said that 'at Claro you don't have to change, you can be yourself.'  

Claro's clients' happiness

Client happiness is very important for us; it's always on our mind. We focus on delivering final results and exceeding expectations. The first one is about the content. The second is about the customer experience, which is where happiness lies. If our final product exceeds expectations over what the contract says, we positively impact client happiness. We helped the company to be successful, and we helped the individual to be more successful too.  

Change and happiness

Though I hadn't thought about it specifically with that word, there is also the happiness of the wider stakeholder group. We call it excitement. The result of our work produces change. We give our clients new innovative products, services or strategies. Because it is really innovative, it means that they need to change: invest money to make it happen, change the way they work, change their strategy, or change the way they see the world.
How do you make that happen? Happiness is very important there. They have to be happy with this change. How do you get people to be happy with the change? For me it's about creating excitement and credibility.
We don't deliver just the idea. We deliver the insights and the opportunities. And then we spend a lot of time in workshops inside the client company with large groups of people --up to 80 people-- to co-create the new ideas. That gives more ownership, more happiness and more empowerment. It's people in the company who are creating the change. They generate and are the carriers of this excitement and credibility. And the participants enjoy it a lot.


About the end-users (our clients' customers)

The only way our clients can have a sustainable business is if they generate happiness for their customers. People call it satisfaction, but I think it's too soft. When you ask somebody 'how was it?' and the person answers 'I'm satisfied', that's not so good, right? Companies wish clients would say, 'I love this product', 'I love this service', or 'They treat me so well'. So companies want to go beyond customer satisfaction.


Companies should look for functional satisfaction and emotional happiness. And here is where many companies go wrong. They only go for functional satisfaction. Something has gone wrong when in User Centred Design they only focus on the function and not on the emotional needs.
The emotional impact does not necessarily need to come from the product. Let's look at the Internet of Things (IoT). Everybody is talking about it, YouTube is full of vision videos, and all of them only focus on functional aspects. For example, when a user wakes up in the morning, the coffee machine starts, the window's curtains open, and the information radio program turns on .... This is just functional, and that was technologically possible 40 years ago; my uncle has a prototype in his room! That never became mainstream. The reason is that people are not looking to make life more efficient and automated. Think about it: people watch an average of four hours a day of TV. Do you think those people want to have a more efficient life?! 
People are looking for entertainment, relationships. So it's not about the functionality, it's about the experience.
If you want to create a successful product or service, you have to focus on a specific target user. When you are researching this target user, you have to understand their emotional needs, as well as the functional needs. For example, Toymail, a free voice messaging service for kids, is an example of a vision to build around an emotional need.

People and happiness

We have noticed that nowadays people in big companies are managing many projects. That means that they have little time for each project. That makes them very unhappy because they can't make things happen. In fact, at we are exploring, with strategy consultants from other fields, how to create more creative environments for people working in big companies.
The funny thing about happiness is that we don't use that word, but it makes a lot of sense. If you ask someone what is the higher, higher, higher goal that she/he is pursuing, the answer is 'happiness'. Why not use that when you create work?
We should help people to achieve happiness. At Claro when we are mentoring our team, we ask each person what his/her dream is, what they are pursuing, and we try to help them to get there. For example, one of our colleagues wants have a company with her brother, and we are using every opportunity in our day-to-day at work to teach her and give her responsibilities related to that dream.

References and resources commented and shared: 

Conversation facilitated by Nicole & Silvia on 02 FEB 15.