If we are going to grow a value-creating culture, we need to see that organizations exist to create value, not just to get things done. If what we are doing isn’t valuable, then it likely is waste. As leaders we want to help our teams, organizations, and communities go from cultures that focus only on excellence in execution to cultures of value creation.
While “value creation” may be new to people and sound exotic or sophisticated, it is a field of action that has structure, process, and skills. It’s something that can be learned and grown over time, and it is becoming more of a competitive necessity in a changing world.
To be effective we must have a generative interpretation of value and its creation, meaning we have an interpretation that shows us actions we can take rather than just explanations we understand. We need to make value creation a practice and a skill.
The key is to realize that value is an assessment by a customer, not a characteristic of our product, service, or actions. This takes us to the need to listen well to our customers and prospective customers, whether they are customers who buy our products and services, or people internal to an organization that has to “buy into” an action, strategy, or approach.
We have created value when people buy or buy into; when they accept our offers and take actions we have invited them to. There is a new field emerging explaining how startups create value by “discovering” it, and by developing customers, not just products. Books like Four Steps to Epiphany, Lean Startup, and Running Lean are laying out a rigorous process for how experiments and the customer’s response to them allow organizations to discover value rather than trying to figure it out.
These books lay out the process, but in the process, we must develop skills: how to “listen” – listen for value – and how to design the next step in testing our value proposition with customer responses. Our experiments must reveal to us the world of our customers and what they care about.
Here’s my generative interpretation of value: value is the customer’s assessment of whether our offer takes care of what they care about, and whether they are willing to commit their resources to enable that offer compared to other offers that they can choose. This involves listening for their care, their standards, and what choices they face in their world. And it usually makes our biggest competitor their choice to do nothing. This gives us the questions to explore in discovering value.
Once we see value and how to create it as skills of interaction and discovery, then we have the elements of a culture of value creation. But we also need a generative interpretation of culture – what it is, and how to grow it. Notice that I’m not saying “build” a culture, but “grow” it. Culture is like a garden, we can plant the seeds and cultivate them, but we don’t “build” it like a wall.
I invite you to join our conference call to explore growing a culture of value creation. We’ll explore the skills of discovering value with customers, and the practices for cultivating a culture.
To listen to the audio recording of this conference call about Value Creation, CLICK HERE.