Recently, I was invited to discuss ‘added value’ from an expert view with attendees that focus on providing IT services towards IT users. That gave me some interesting viewpoints directly linked to human behavior in successful organizations.

Of course, we see a lot of definitions from an economic perspective, such as ‘The value that is added to any product or service as the result of a particular process’, etcetera. However, even from an economical perspective, added value does not start with a certain good but with human behavior. Like an expert once stated: ‘Value is a conversion of the time’. Value is created when someone decides to invest a part of his life into something else. By investing time, you can create something of value. Time is our only real resource, the fuel of life and is non-renewable; that makes time so valuable. The moment you invest your time in something, you sacrifice a part of your life for this purpose. Usually, you get something of value in return; money, appreciation, love, pleasure, sociability, avoiding misery and so on.

From a personal perspective, adding value starts with investing time. But time is not enough. Services delivered by two individuals spending an equal amount of time, knowledge and expertise often result in a different perceived value. Attention is the key factor here. To pay more attention, you need a certain level of courage and sometimes the patience to make small steps forward. It is also essential to clearly communicate what you are doing. That helps tremendously. This is often called profiling, and seen as building your ego, but that’s not the point. You have to tell what you do, otherwise it may stay unnoticed.

Ikea, in this context, is a very good example with their new brand position in the Netherlands: ‘attention makes everything better’. By investing time and attention they design and produce better products that result in a cozier home and an improved living environment. That’s real value.

Another example is the hotel chain, Van der Valk. With their consistent strategy for ‘transparency and affordability’, they offer hospitality. And you’ll notice already upon entering each hotel. It is incredible to experience how they manage to let everyone feel welcome. How is that possible? Hospitality requires empathy. Not ‘what I want’, but ‘what the customer wants’. That focus is the first step towards customer intimacy.

You need a team to reach for higher goals!

A well-functioning team easily provides added value. Valuable cooperation requires complying with some basic principles:

Recognize a common goal
Be open to feedback and, therefore, ask for it
Work together and agree on shared principles
Clear roles and responsibilities
Involvement (anecdote of The Chicken and the Pig)
Communicate, communicate, communicate
I conclude that successful organizations prosper by consciously investing time and attention of each individual. The aforementioned ingredients combined in a well-functioning team delivers exactly that: value!

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