Lead With Value

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Categories: Strategy


by Dave Wakeman

Where do you stand on the value vs. benefits debate? 

As someone who spends most of my time managing projects in marketing and revenue-generating roles, I likely see the idea in a much different way. 

To me, value is the most important thing that you can sell to your sponsors, stakeholders and your team.

Why? 

I think it’s pretty simple: If you are selling benefits, you have allowed yourself to slip into the world of commodity. 

As the need increases for project managers to advocate for resources and execution in projects, it’s important that we don’t give weight to commodity thinking. If we allow ourselves to become a commodity, it becomes much easier to ignore our project, cancel the project or not give the project the resources it needs to be successful. 

Value, on the other hand, allows you to explain your project in terms of impact. And if your stakeholders, sponsors and team see the impact and the improvement of what your project will mean to the organization, community or stakeholders, it becomes much easier to sell the importance of the project, the need for resources and the benefits. 

Here are a couple ideas on how you can prioritize value in your projects.

Lead with impact. Think about how the work you are doing is going to improve people’s lives, the success of an organization or some other high impact measure that will get people excited. 

Here’s an example: In working on the New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York’s Times Square for several years, I could have easily said my main job was to make sure that I expedited people’s access to the restricted areas, hastened the process of getting people in and out of Times Square and ensured that the primary entertainment events went off in a timely manner. 

That would be missing the point. The impact that I created was that I ensured that the logistics of the ball drop didn’t stand in the way of people having a safe, enjoyable New Year’s Eve experience. 

In the first example, those are just commodity activities. 

But if I do the job of selling the value the right way, it’s much more likely that the project is going to go through in a way that I hope for. 

Don’t just think of the tangible benefits; think of the intangible benefits too. The core of the benefits argument is that tasks are the only thing people value in business or project management. 

As someone that started out my career working in entertainment exclusively, I recognized pretty early on that what people view as a benefit often is independent of what they are actually getting from physical goods. 

For all of you thinking about value over benefits, this boils down to tangible versus intangible value.

If you are selling the value of your projects, and you want to increase the impact of your conversation, focus on impact. Think about it from both the tangible and intangible angles. 

The tangible value in your project might be how much more money they are going to earn, how much money they are going to save or how much more efficient something will be. 
Intangible values shouldn’t be discounted — they often carry a higher impact than tangible values. And the fulfillment of intangible needs often is the reason that people buy into the tangible values as goals. 

Your sponsor or stakeholders might really be much more excited by less stress from commuting, in the case of a mass transit or road project. They might find that the reduction in time allows them to spend more time at home with their family. 

Or, the intangible might be something else entirely. 

The key is to not allow your project to just become a checklist of activities. If you do, you are likely dealing with commodity status and no project team does their best work in that situation. 

 

 

 

Posted by David Wakeman on: April 19, 2018 09:08 PM | Permalink

Comments (21)

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It's interesting that intangible value is rarely focused upon in projects.

Very good Dave!

Great, Dave. The focus on value, and reminding of such, is a significantly important aspect, and like you say, often overshadowed by simply following a series of tasks. I often have had to steer the conversation back to our discussions around value and value-based delivery.

Very good Dave. I appreciate the nod to the intangible values.

Informative article, Dave and thanks for sharing.

Good Insights David - Value is important !

Traditionally the bend has always been towards tangible values whereas intangibles do not receive the much required attention..thanks for bringing it into focus with this piece

Dave - I agree with the proposition that value includes tangible and intangible elements. The value from the project deliverables, expressed in an equivalent currency amount, should be part of the review on the financial return on the invested project expense.

Thanks for sharing...

Great insight Dave! Thanks for helping us to remember what we really bring to the table for our organizations.

Yes, Benefits are not just face value tangibles.
Thanks

Thank you for this interesting vision!

Great article!

Another way to remember to highlight the value and having an impact is to make an effort to connect with the hearts and minds of the stakeholders.

Interesting thank you for sharing

Awesome, Thanks a lot for such a nice article.

Focus on impact. Good thought.

Hi Dave, good article. I think the points you make are valid, but I don’t think the premise you began with aligns. The idea of benefit vs value was misleading. Value at the core is cost/benefit which is what I thought you were going to discuss. My interest in reading the post was to find out who looks only at benefits and what the justification would be. Your overall point was to focus on positioning, massaging the story to be impactful rather than mundane. That I agree with fully, especially with the growing trend of story telling. Would be great to see a series of PM discussion about story telling, and how PM practitioners should be improving their story telling skills.

Value is more emcompassing than benefit, definitely goes a long way! Great thoughts, thanks for sharing!

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