All organizations are established to deliver value.
But our thoughts about value are often limited.
We often see value in a limited way,
from one single perspective
and with a narrow focus, on numbers.
If you do, you are missing out a lot.
Know what to count.
And make it count.
All organizations are established to deliver value. But our thoughts about value are often limited. In business, we tend to constrict our scope to values that are measurable in an objective and quantitative manner. Our standards are economic, with a focus on optimizing short-term financial performance.
Much of this way of thinking about measuring productivity and performance stems from the theories of Taylor; from the eye of production work. Management by numbers, often with a focus on short term profit maximisation. What we cannot objectify or quantify, is systematically ignored. Intangible and non-monetary values are excluded . With this one-sided focus on money, shareholder interests and short term profit maximization, we have created a system that only appeals to a part of our wide range of human desires and values.
Why should you care?
This kind of ‘management by numbers’ is a superficial and reductionist view of reality. We have come to believe in the absolute value of numbers, but reality simply can not be captured in nice round figures. When intangible and non-monetary values are excluded, reality is excluded and you’ll miss the most important needs of people. And thus, the opportunities to create value.
In addition, this fixation on money makes companies do things that are not serving the interests of the customers or employees. This can lead to a dehumanization of transactions, loss of relationships and growing (social) anxiety and dissatisfaction. For example, when customers feel that money and internal efficiency are leading, at the expense of their interest.
So, organizations often see value in a single and limited way, with a narrow focus on economic value, objectivity and quantification. With this approach and way of thinking, our goal to create value is severely limited. It’s about creating value for people. And the possibilities to create value are much more than value by numbers (owh, and money isn’t actually a value or a purpose, money is the result).
How to unscrew the system
We believe in acting different.
This starts with knowing what to count.
As Chip Conley says in his TED Talk:
“So what the world needs now, is business leaders and political leaders who know what to count. We count numbers. We count on people. What really counts is when we actually use our numbers to truly take into account our people.” (Conley, 2010, min: 16.56).
We believe an enriching approach, by broadening the view with a much wider range of values. Adding other values: non-monetary, subjective and qualitative ones. The so called “immeasurable values”. Practical and functional values, and emotional values like security, freedom, humor, quality, fun, play and happiness.
BTW. There are a lot of examples of systems related to the ‘other’ values. Check out the SROI (Social Return on Investment), which refers to “subjective” values such as feeling, fun, happiness, humor and quality. Other examples are: Indicators of Social and Economic Welfare (ISEW), the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW), the Happy Planet Index (HPI) and the Gross National Happiness of Bhutan. (Owh. And check out this ROI Calculator for organizations: How much happiness could save you)
A small extra note about happiness. The world is changing and scientific evidence is proving that happy, engaged employees are good for business because they perform better, produce better results, are more creative and are willing to go the extra mile. And happiness leads to engagement. We don’t want to go there in this blog. Lots of scientific proof on the value of happiness. Want to read more about happiness in organizations? There’s a whole issue of Harvard Business Review on this subject. Or read our blog about the value of fun, play and happiness at work.
Do you know what is truly valuable to your company, your employees and stakeholders?
Do you know what ‘makes them tick’ and feel good?
(Plan B has “The Master of Value”. This Master ensures proper focus of attention and represents the voice of all the stakeholders. What is the value we are creating? And for whom?)
Once you know what valuable is, you can offer services and products, design solutions and make decisions that create value. Big time.
Know what to count.
And make it count.
Want to know more?
Check out our magazine
about Value & Purpose.
Read what other people say about this.
View my Flipboard Magazine.
In this magazine, you’ll find this also:
- Video (5 min). The X-model of Engagement
- Video: TED Talk Dan Ariely. What makes us feel good about our work?
- Video: TED Talk Shawn Achor. The happy secret to better work.