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The five values of business success

The value language of business has become synonymous with measurable results: dollars in revenue sales, numbers of actively engaged customers, percentages of growth in market share or time saved in efficiencies. Whilst tangible value (measurable, objective) is important component these metrics are a lagging indicator of all value elements intrinsically at play.

Back in 2002 Daniel Kahneman (behaviourial economist, psychologist) was awarded the Nobel Prize for proving how much of our decision making happens at an intuitive, emotional, level. Meaning, even for the most logical, number loving people, emotions remain the subtle undercurrent driving their choices.

We can look bleary eyed through endless reports to hypothesise and make sense of it all. In a world of big data there’s often way too much of the stuff! Consider five key elements highlighted here with quick examples then change hats and pace and you’ll likely bring them more creatively to life for yourself.

Tangible Value

We already know these are the numbers: so make sure your people know their own. If managers have to educate their people the team aren’t connected with their own productivity or goals. When you have a business where everyone has goals and development plans plus they’re literate with critical measures (don’t drown them in reports or daily meetings) they learn to adjust their own sails: or sales, to play on words!


Emotional Value

Forget the products or services you sell or provide. Those are surface, logical outputs or transactions exchanging hands. It’s not necessarily why employees or customers truly bond with your business, product or brand.

A long time back I recall Roger Harvey MM MA MAICD, in my circle, simply highlighting that as a couturière the boutique clothing and hats at the core of Coco Chanels business (later expanded to jewelry and fragrances) were surface. The tangible, logical exchange if you will. The deeper transaction was connecting people with themes like self-confidence.

Harley Davidson bad ass bikes are a symbol or gateway to freedom. Even the somewhat iconic brand Contiki, thriving since 1961, have something in common with Harley D:  their own travel tribe have embraced tattooing the symbolic hashtag ‘NO REGRETS’. When you’ve an audience willing to scar their body for life with your brand there’s little logic involved.

Put more thought into what you’re really selling or providing, beyond the product. Then learn to tell better stories, ignite the senses, that embrace both heart and mind.

Service Value

Corporate social responsibility, grass roots community support or impact to environment is no longer a nice to have. Employees and customers look a lot more closely under the engine hood to see how businesses operate. In a recent Sydney Morning Herald feature Alexandra Cain highlights the rise and success of start-ups that focus on positive purpose rather than product alone.

In Australia, ‘Who Gives A Crap’ have turned a most mundane product, toilet paper, into something exciting, fun and purposeful: given the sizeable donations, tangible value, they make tackling and impacting a global issue where 2 billion people don’t have access to toilets. Simon Griffiths, co founder and CEO, recently explained, the 50% of profits business model fuels faster growth and greater impact overall.  Perhaps ask what’s the social causes or greater impact your business can make.

Relationship Value

Relationships of meaning, underpinned by traits like authenticity, collaboration and kindness, are frequently the ones we value most. Many businesses identify these highly sought qualities of human character and turn them into values. The danger being often they become buzzwords, short statements or sentences that are little more than posters on the wall.

If you truly want to build stronger relationships both inside and outside your business bring these values to life. Give examples, what they mean or how they’re acted upon. People may have different perspectives around the same word or theme. To keep them alive, espouse them, reward and recognise them. The behaviours and traits of the relationships within the team or with customers are the predecessor of those lagging indicators of metric based reports.

Personal Value

This is a a little like Mila Jovovich’s character in the movie, given ‘The 5th Element’ is you! It is every individual, yourself or your team, that harness, demonstrate or bring the power of the other four value elements to life.

Be your best. Yet also be kind to yourself and each other. Life happens and our best one day doesn’t always equate to the same.

Adapt as needed being mindful that choices and actions, logical and emotional, as Kahneman suggests, are linked to success. Businesses themselves are merely a name from the shelf of ASIC. It is people who make those decisions and bring the business value and success to life. Make sure to ponder both possibilities and consequences of choices and actions.

By Mark Carter, international keynote speaker, trainer and coach


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