If a team is to succeed in today’s business world it needs to be seen to be providing value – and that value must be higher than viable alternatives or the team will be no more. Outsourcing, offshoring, right sizing and reorganising are all evidence of organisations looking for better value and trying to create a better return on their investment. High value teams are the ones who are seen to be meeting or exceeding their stakeholders’ expectations and building trust, credibility and faith in the future.
The key questions and intelligent conversations for teams must include what value their supporters and customers are looking for and how the team is providing value for the stakeholder population. Who would want something that was of no value? Websites offering items for sale or even for free are full of people wanting to offload things that are now a burden to them – and organisations are no different.
The value equation for human beings is much more complex than the simple financial return on investment the finance department or an investment analyst uses. Spreadsheets can never measure pride, comfort, status, winning, confidence or self worth. Our purchases and investments may have some or all of these as criteria by which we judge our past and future spending. Feeling confident, proud or fulfilled is infinitely preferable to feeling worried, ashamed or dissatisfied.
The value equation as a mathematical formula looks something like Reward divided by Expense. In human terms that “reward” and that “expense” has much more variation than simple numbers or percentages.
Rewards are individual, irrational, illogical and feed our minds with a sense of self worth. Rewards, of course, can be temporary and be followed by “buyer’s remorse” but while they are positive they make us feel better about ourselves.
Expenses could be financial but they are also about time, effort, stress, concern, doubt and worry. The public’s loss of confidence in the banking industry bears testament to what happens when Expense equals or exceeds Reward.
Teams must find out what their investors are looking for and really understand the value equation for customers. Sponsors, supporters and stakeholders if they are to provide value and a sustainable future. The business press is full of big names who failed to keep up-to-date with that constituted value and who became historic failures almost overnight – such is the speed with which investor confidence can bring about collapse.
So the team must answer these five profound questions:
How does the organisation measure our value as a team?
What do our customers or consumers want when they use our product or service?
What would make our sponsors or stakeholders invest elsewhere?
Why would anyone want to invest in what we have to offer?
How do our stakeholders feel about working with us?
These questions, then, are the starting point for intelligent conversations and really worthwhile team thinking which can help build the truly high value team with a sustainable future.