Sometimes, I think we think about value too restrictively. 

Historically, we tended to focus value as something we did exclusively “for” customers.  As sellers we know that value creation and realization are critical in engaging our customers.

In recent years, we’ve started looking at value creation more broadly.  We’ve started looking at it as a collaborative process, working with our customers.  And we start creating value from our very first engagement, continuing to build on that in each interaction with the customer, through their buying and implementation process.  And we’ve learned it doesn’t end with the successful implementation of our solutions, but continues for the life of the relationship.  If we expect to grow the relationship, we have to continue helping them think differently, grow and improve.

And, increasingly, we are finding it critical to work with partner/customer ecosystems, creating value for and with each partner involved.  More often, we find we need to work with others, in addition to our customers, in addressing complex customer problems.  Doing this requires a more nuanced understanding of value creation–what we and the partners created/deliver with our customers, and the value we and our partners create with each other in the process.

I’ll shift gears here, clearly there is so much more to discuss about value creation with our partners and within the collaborative ecosystems.  But I want to shift my focus to a broader perspective of value.  Why do we think of value creation as confined to things we do with our customers and, perhaps, our ecosystem customers.

What if we extend our thinking of value creation to look within our organizations?  What if leaders started thinking about, “How do we create value for the people that work in our organization?”  (I’m sure there are a number of managers thinking, “Dave, you got it backwards, they work for us, if they don’t create value for us, we will find people that do!!”)

What does this mean?

Value creation is always a collaborative effort.  We can’t create value for someone, we create value with them.  As we think about value creation more broadly, we recognize that value creation is about the attainment of shared goals.  If we think about value in this way, we begin to assess  how we might do things differently improving our abilities to innovate and do new things?  

We cannot exist in our organizations, community, and societies alone, we are dependent on others in our ability to achieve, as others are dependent on us.   Carefully assessing the value we create with those we work with helps us better understand the goals/dreams of others, and they of us.  We look at how we can better achieve these together. 

We look at our partners seeking to understand why they have chosen to partner, what they hope to achieve, why that’s important to them, what happens if they fail to achieve those objectives.  And they must look at us in the same manner.  We collaboratively develop, execute, and course correct our abilities to achieve our shared goals.

Within our own organizations, we depend on other functions as they depend on us.  The concepts of “silo’s” and “tossing something over a wall,” have never been models of effectiveness or efficiency.  They optimize for the individual functions and not for the overall goals of the organization.  And as we look at our customer engagement strategies, we recognize they are no longer sequences of functional activities (marketing does their thing, handing it off to sales, handing it off to customer service, etc), but interleaved activities where we must work together.

It turns out value creation across all these dimensions, within our own organizations,  is critical to our long term growth and success.  And by becoming better at value creation in these areas, we become better in creating value with our customers.

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