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What We Miss About Creating Value

by David Brock on December 10th, 2008

I’m often called upon to speak about Value Propositions! Every time, I do some quick research about the topic. It continues to be one of the most popular subjects:

1. Yesterday’s Google search on “Value Propositions” yielded 4,140,000 hits, up from 2,900,000 in January.
2. It continues to be a “hot topic” in blogs and in consultant pontification (I guess I need to include myself on this).
3. In our own web marketing (SEO) programs, it is the second highest performer, just behind strategic alliances and partnering.
4. When we talk to our clients’ customers, one of the biggest issues they have is they don’t understand the value their suppliers bring.
5. In these tough economic times, everyone is searching for value.

I believe one of the reasons this is such a “hot topic” is that most of us are remarkably bad in developing and communicating meaningful value—whether it is to our customers, colleagues, employees, employers, or communities.

There is a lot of good stuff that has been written on the topic of developing and communicating differentiated value. For this post, I won’t repeat it. However, there is one area that I never see any mention of:

In every interchange — particularly those we initiate and whether it is with customers, colleagues, or others, it is critical to think: What value will I create in this interchange?

If we can’t define the value we will create, then we are wasting time—we’re wasting the time of the people we are meeting with, we are wasting our time.

If we can’t define the value we will create, we are best off cancelling the meeting until we can define the value.

Imagine what would happen if each of us started doing this in just our professional lives. Imagine the number of useless meetings that would be cancelled. Imagine the number of thoughtless phone calls or conversations that would be eliminated. Imagine the time that would be freed up to really accomplish things that create value.

Creating value starts with each of us. We can improve our own productivity and effectiveness by making sure in every meeting, phone call, conversation or other interchange we create value for everyone involved.

It isn’t tough, creating value is not about solving world hunger. The test of whether you have created value is: Can the person or people you meet with say, at the end of the meeting, “That was a worthwhile investment of my time.” If we design all our meetings and conversations to achieve this goal, then we have created real sustainable value.

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