Voices on Project Management

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Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with--or even disagree with--leave a comment.

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Cameron McGaughy
Marian Haus
Lynda Bourne
Lung-Hung Chou
Bernadine Douglas
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Conrado Morlan
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David Wakeman
Roberto Toledo
Vivek Prakash
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Jess Tayel
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Linda Agyapong
Joanna Newman

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Determining the Value of Value

Categories: Earned Value, Stakeholder

What exactly is value? A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) -- Fifth Edition suggests value is a concept unique to each organization and encompasses the total sum of all tangible and intangible value elements. 

Determining the tangible ones is relatively straightforward and can easily be reduced to a financial return. More difficult is understanding the intangible value elements the project can create -- and identifying low-cost options with the potential to create massive intangible value by creating favorable outcomes in the minds of stakeholders.

One simple example is the practice of cutting small viewing windows in construction site fences. The cost is minimal, but the practice delivers value through improved safety because passers-by don't need to stand near the gate to see what's going on. There's also the public relations value of letting the public see the actual progress of the work. 

The challenge is finding and tracking these valuable intangibles, bearing in mind most of the value will be created in the minds of various stakeholders. One useful tool is consultant Edward de Bono's Six Value Medals: 

  • Gold Medal: Covers the things that matter directly to people, including pride, achievement, praise or humiliation.
  • Silver Medal: Centers on the purpose and mission of the organization and what matters to the overall business. It considers what will help or hinder us in pursuit of our goals. Examples might include profits, market share or brand image.
  • Steel Medal: Considers the effects on the quality or fitness for purpose of what we're doing, either positive or negative.
  • Glass Medal: Looks at impacts on our ability to innovate and change to do things in a new or improved way.
  • Wood Medal: Draws attention to the environment in the broadest sense, describing positive or negative effects of our decisions or actions on the world around us.
  • Brass Medal: Asks whether there's any resulting change in the way we and others perceive or are perceived.
Based on those, we can perform a "value scan" when determining courses of action within the project and prioritize actions to achieve the values that matter most.

Take a simple example. The last office refit covered up a duct in the wall of the CEO's new office. Now your project has to rip the sidewall out to access the duct and upgrade the cabling. Where's the extra value? Some possible medal ideas include:

  • Gold: Issue an internal news item showing the CEO cooperating with the project despite the inconvenience.
  • Steel: Make sure the duct is accessible in future without demolition work.
  • Glass: Use the repairs to offer an opportunity to update the CEO's office color scheme incorporating her preferences. 
There are probably other possibilities as well depending on the actual project. How do you assess the value of your project to your stakeholder community?
Posted by Lynda Bourne on: December 31, 2013 12:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
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