Value is a slippery term because the value of things is often relative: how much is this worth to whom? Not everyone values things in the same way.
However, we are all in agreement on what it means to add value: to leave a situation, a project, a product in a state that is better than how it was before.
But how do we create value? Is it simply turning up every day and doing our jobs? Not really. One could argue that this is merely to meet minimum professional expectations. No, creating value implies going beyond the standard, the known, into new territory.
As such, creating value is the territory of the creative thinker. If we want to add value, and all industries and workplaces say they do, we have to become more creative thinkers and doers.
The beauty of value creation though is that it can be applied all along the value chain. Collectively we tend to focus on creativity in and of itself, only at the ideation or the execution phases of projects and products. But with value creation, it becomes obvious that a bit of creative thought can add value at every step along the process.
So whether you are an entrepreneur, going from concept to start up and beyond, or a retailer supplying the public with a range of products, value creation is a frame of mind that should be of interest to you.
However, no matter your business we all have suppliers, some form of assembly, distribution, sales, marketing and service components. With the notion of value creation, the notion then becomes not how creative is my product, good or service, but how can I create value for my stakeholders at every link in the chain?
When businesses talk of a Culture of Innovation, this is what I understand. But when you step into big companies you very quickly realise that this is not true. Companies rely on a form of automation: rigid hierarchies and large sets of rules which serve to minimise mistakes that cost money but limited the scope of permitted activity. This controlling doctrine is exactly the opposite of what is required to really create added value.
This is the biggest reason big businesses struggle to change, adapt and innovate: internally they are just not set up for it. So how can we change this? That is the challenge that I tackle, the battle cry of my business: Find the niches and the easy to repeat corners where you can at least start to let the shackles of control loose and allow people to do what they want to do anyway: come up with cool ideas to imp[rove that they are doing… to add value!
There are specific tools, techniques, thinking skills and physical conditions that can help you create such an environment. Just saying, ‘We value innovation,’ isn’t enough.