Our world is moving so fast, the marketplace changing so rapidly, that many of us look up from our desks 20 years into our career and don’t even noticed how it has changed.

I’m not talking about the latest software or mobile device, or the shiniest new gadget from Amazon. I am talking about the fundamental “drift” in the marketplace, and the inability for many people (and companies) to keep up with this pace of change not just from a product perspective, but from a human one.

During the 3rd Industrial revolution, a healthy, successful career was based on “doing” something well. By “doing” I mean completing tasks efficiently and effectively. Our social proof in the marketplace was measured by our ability to take orders, collaborate with others, maintain a positive attitude and complete tasks, with single purpose machines.

The telephone, a typewriter, a hammer.

But even with computers, our brains are still accustomed to working in a task-oriented fashion, for example, using a word processor to create a document, or using Photoshop to work on a design.

Where the marketplace is changing so fast, our brains, culture, society and our habits are not keeping up with that pace. Most of us haven’t fully understood how to work in a world of multi-purpose machines, where multiple tasks can be activated simultaneously and fulfilled much more efficiently than a human ever could.

So going forward, our role in the marketplace is not simply to execute and complete tasks, but how to design systems, ideas and ways of working that leverage this multi-purpose reality. That is the only way to stay competitive because if you or your company isn’t thinking like this, your competitor certainly is.

And now, your competition can be a young kid in an emerging market like the Philippines working on his/her smartphone.

So, back to the addressing the title of this article.

If completing tasks is an obsolete activity, then what do people really care about? What does it mean to add value, producing something that your customer/client/boss really wants (and is willing to pay for?)

Getting back down to earth.

There are a few basic guiding principles that you can think about when designing a new product, proposition or offer.

  1. Identity (will it help increase social proof, membership in a community, to be held in high regard by peers)
  2. Money (will it help the person gain more money)
  3. Leadership (will it help the person go up the career ladder)
  4. Autonomy (will it help to free up time so the person can focus on other life priorities)
  5. Leisure (will it help increase family time, entertainment)
  6. Outlook (will it help the person feel better about now, and be more hopeful about the future)

If your proposal/product/offer takes care of one or more of these areas of care, you will be well on your way to designing more competitive offers.

While your competition is busy “doing”, you can be busy “designing” — creating compelling and valuable offers that reflect the needs of the new global marketplace.