STRONG SUIT: What’s the value proposition?
The concept of value propositions seems omnipresent in many conversations these days. It comes up when people are asking how they will get value for money spent. It comes for vendors of products and services as they try to make pricing decisions. It comes up when trying to make realistic projections about how to deploy scarce resources.
In this technological age, we are bombarded with offers of products and services, requests for sponsorships and enticements to participate in organizations and movements. Each of these is seeking some measure of our time, talent and treasure (money).
What drives you to that final decision to act? What makes you say ‘yes, this is a good deal’? In my experience, it is personal needs, goals and values. That is further dependent on the context in which the request is made. The prevailing question is: What’s in it for me? WIIFM is the world’s most famous radio station.
There you have it; we are all selfish but must we also be greedy? A well-known Caribbean expression is that “one hand can’t clap”. Therefore the success of virtually all endeavours presumes the cooperation of others. Yet there is a persistent tendency to focus on finding benefits for ourselves without meaningful reciprocity.
In many circles, it is considered a virtue to have a single-minded approach to getting what you want. Bishop Jason Gordon used the example of the rapper 50 Cents’ song Get Rich Or Die Trying” to illustrate the materialistic, hedonistic goals and values that gives pre-eminence to wants over real needs.
Of course there are more “sophisticated” versions such as Enron, Bernard Madoff, Allen Stanford, CLICO, the lingering global financial crisis and executives who take high salaries and bonuses for leading failed organizations. Its effects permeate every level of society to a point that it is difficult to recognize value or values as something good. It gives true meaning to the concept of knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing.
I have questioned many who have raised value proposition issues and found that often they have not considered the difference between features and benefits. They feel entitled to anything they can envy. The ‘bling” of brand names and status obscures the discussion of true benefit measured in wholesome terms. Humility and a desire to be helpful to others are considered weaknesses.
Not everyone pursues this predatory value proposition. Many consciously seek to be of value and to encourage a faithfulness to the idea of human worth. Alas, with the persistent din of power, pleasure and acquisition; talk about loving, caring and helping others is a risky stance.
Around the world, we are seeing increased examples of principled persons using social networks and technology to create “flash mobs” of spontaneous joy and “spring times” of new beginnings. It is important to know that seeking to be a person of value and a person with values, is infectious and is the only basis for true sustainability.
I missed my submission deadline for this article when a friend called me and announced that a new Pope had been elected. An hour later, Pope Francis I emerged. In a few brief moments, with a unique display of love and humility, I felt the dawn of a new day.
Let’s work together to be better humans.
• Dennis Strong is founding president of the Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants.