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Value - Why and what?

A common word nowadays: value. It quickly becomes a platitude, an empty shell. If we pursue 'value' then it is good, but what do we mean by it?

Mark Schwartz, in his book "The Art of Business Value", describes how we should determine business value: "To deliver business value means we want to do the right thing, do lots of it, and do it quickly".  Schwartz believes that business value is a hypothesis that should be validated and tested as soon as possible.


"Value is in the eye of the beholder", but this does not automatically mean that the value is equated with 'user value' and 'customer value'. If we put ourselves in the shoes of a project/product/service team, we cannot determine value outside the team and throw it over the wall towards the team. It is also not an exclusive responsibility of customer responsible roles such as a Product Owner, there is more to do than prioritizing tasks and asking for feedback.

"Value is in the eye of the beholder"

, but this does not automatically mean that the value is equated with 'user value' and 'customer value'. If we put ourselves in the shoes of a project/product/service team, we cannot determine value outside the team and throw it over the wall towards the team. It is also not an exclusive responsibility of customer responsible roles such as a Product Owner, there is more to do than prioritizing tasks and asking for feedback.

What we do have to do is to determine value, in close contact with the business operations, the customers and employees of an organization. Then we determine the work the team will actually deliver to establish the desired outcomes. Only after a product or service has been delivered can it be validated whether it is valuable.

The Liberators, agile enthusiasts Christiaan Verwijs and Barry Overeem, have frequently published on the 5 types of value. They use these categories:
- commercial value
- efficiency value
- market value
- customer value
- future value


This typology is a good conversation starter to look at the different perspectives of value, together with all stakeholders, including the team.

It seems obvious to have a 'Return on Investment' calculation as the basis for this, but that is not always practically feasible. In a healthy organization we must continuously expect changes (improvements). Extensive risk assessment is therefore difficult. It will mainly be a journey of discovery towards the intended business value and outcomes. Experimenting and validating what is learned, is important.


Organizations tend to be Complex Adaptive Systems. The straightforward determination of outcomes with what we now know for the next year is often not possible. What we need to take into account are, for example, investments in new technology in order to continue to deliver sufficient value. But also ensuring that the team continues to gain the confidence of the investors. For the latter, attention will therefore have to be paid to good (people) management, effective working methods and recruitment. In addition, value also has less measurable aspects, such as reputational damage, business continuity, political agenda or customer trust. Nevertheless, we do want to take these aspects into account, in order to learn better from the overall picture and to make smarter choices with regard to our investments and portfolio.


Value has a life cycle and requires constant attention: after defining what is valuable, we must draw up, adjust and deliver the services and also provide the required attention for improvement. At the annual srvision event (in 2023 on April 19th, with preceding workshops on the 18th) we want to dive into all aspects of value with you. By making it concrete, with tangible instruments, practical experiences and real case studies. We will learn about the imagination, delivery, sharing and optimization of value in the digital enterprise.


We invite you to participate by bringing your story, your vision or personal experiences to our audience. We encourage you to share your stimulating ideas, innovative practices and practical learnings.