I am reading a lot about the concept of value creation recently, it answers everything but tells us so often nothing about how it is made up or it is truly present. It seems to have that same ‘heady vaulted position’ as innovation in that we all talk far more about the ‘promise’ of it, we want it but still are not prepared to put the real effort into it to make it happen.
So let me try and explain my thoughts on value creation. So what is behind value creation? What drives it? What will tell us this is an organization where value creation seems to well invest in, nurtured, built and protected?
So what is value creation?
Value creation is highly dynamic, it is going on all the time and can increase, decrease or transform, in different ways, when you exploit your different capitals that will be in constant change and adjusting to reflect your organization’s business activities and eventual outputs. This is when you can begin to see the value created by the use of deploying all the capitals to build new growth and what I call “stock” that along with “flow”. I loved this explaination of the two.
I’m a little tired of the lack of original thinking that goes into measuring innovation. Most trot out the same old chestnuts, including ‘return on investment’ as always, as near or at the top.
Leaders want to hear this, the sad truth is getting a ‘decent ROI’ for innovation constructed (note constructed) is really hard. If the innovation is new to the world, how can it have a clear financial return on investment until much later, much becomes an ‘educated’ guess?
We need to appreciate new innovation balance sheet thinking
Why a balance sheet thinking? There are hard and soft measures to measuring or judging our innovation. It goes way outside financial numbers. Would we have seen the emergence of Facebook, Apple Watches, Uber etc etc if those that were determining success from their investments had actually insisted on guaranteeing the ROI before launch or within short time frames, that many of our established organizations insist upon? No it was the belief and ‘seeing’ the potential that encouraged those investing to make the initial investment and then continue on ‘future’ returns.
Innovation needs to create value, both short-term and progressively over time. It fuels the growth and fires the imagination.
Yet our innovation activities are constantly coming up short for the leaders within our organizations, who continue to remain disappointed in its final outcome to stimulate and drive the growth they want to see.
It is actually the classic “chicken and egg”. Aristotle (384–322 BC) was puzzled by the idea that there could be a first bird or egg and concluded that both the bird and egg must have always existed. Leaders need to lead and are they the chicken, they are the resource for how can the people charged with innovation can lay the ‘golden eggs’ needed, if they are incapable of laying? Or should the innovation egg come first for our leaders to become more confident and build further, believing in innovation far more?
There should be no dilemma we can’t treat innovation lightly anymore, it needs to develop its uniqueness for each of our organizations to evolve. We need both the egg and the chicken to be ‘producing’.
What I’m driving towards here is that innovation is evolving is my 1st point
I seem to be reading a lot about the concept of value creation recently. It seems to have the same ‘heady vaulted position’ as innovation in that we all talk far more about the ‘promise’ of it. So what is behind value creation? What drives it? What will allow us to stand out as the place to invest in?
So what is value creation?
Value creation is highly dynamic, it is going on all the time and can increase, decrease or transform in different ways when you exploit your different capitals that will change and reflect your organization’s business activities and eventual outputs. This is when you can begin to see the value created by the use of deploying all the capitals.
Forget the flowery words; there is a time to deliver. I am trying to take a cold hard look at what and how we report in our organizations. Does it give us the level of detailed understanding to feel confident?
Let me outline some different thoughts, coming from some detailed research that is swirling around in my mind today. It’s a little complicated, but lets try.
I apologize this is a little longer than ideal so maybe take it in bite seized chunks.
Seeing an organizations business model but through whose eyes?
Is the business model important? Of course it is but how we see its value all depends on who are you, what you are looking for, knowing what provides the real value creation within that specific organization becomes important to appreciate their business model. Understanding the business model of organizations is important, it can tell us much, if it is well designed and explained.
Organizations have been focused for far too long around the importance of financial capital. It determines and drives organizations destinies. We are caught in a constant focus upon our achieving a return on our (financial) capital as our measuring criteria. Organizations strive for improving their ROCE, RONA, IRR, EVA and a host of other financial measures.
As Clayton Christensen has been arguing the agenda of organizations begins and ends with the “search for numbers”. I think there is a time for changing this, we need to search for the knowledge that makes-up eventually the numbers.
There has been a distant voice for some time putting forward the need to appreciate and value the other capitals sitting within organizations. Much of the discussions have been housed under the term “intellectual capital” which denotes the sum of knowledge made up and contributed by our human assets, our organizational structures and our relationships that are developed. These are the ‘capitals’ that transform into economic value through organization action. It is the financial capital that simply finances this.
How do we engage within our own internal organizational communities? How do we communicate our sense of purpose to the outside world? How do we integrate all the activities we are (or should be) undertaking as responsible leaders?
Are we working towards understanding the material sustainability issues better and linking them to financial drivers and where we fit within these complex issues?
There is such an increasing need to develop or simply updating our business language to build stronger cases for change, improvement and broader community engagement but these still seem to be missing. How are organizations aligning their organizations not just with their own strategies but those in the wider world that contribute into a more sustaining future? We are needing to answer a fair few of these questions in my opinion.