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Value Preposition

Funny-street-signs-arrows-good-luckYes, you read that right... Value Preposition.

We all know what a value PROPOSITION is... that statement telling everyone WHAT you bring to the table. It's been hammered and expounded and pontificated to death. From organizations to individuals, if you don't know your value proposition by now, you've missed the bus.

But what about your value PREPOSITION? You know what a preposition is... think back to your early grammar classes. Prepositions are those "directional" words: to, from, by, for, with, around, etc.

It's one thing to know WHAT value you bring to the table (i.e., your accomplishments), but do you know HOW that value is being conveyed? Knowing the answer to both is key to branding your accomplishments.

This weekend, I start teaching a new semester AND the first pilot site of my project goes live. For weeks, I've been wrestling with questions about my customers, students, and stakeholders. Am I doing this TO them, FOR them, or WITH them? The answer is all three (depending on what the "this" is).

But it's still an important question to consider. If you do things TO your customers, will they resent it? Everytime Facebook makes a major change, the posts are littered with complaints that they don't care about the users. If you do things FOR your customers, do they perceive it as patriarchal or an entitlement? Or are you accomplishing significant milestones WITH your customers in the spirit of partnership? Another possibility is doing things AROUND or NEARBY people who may not be your customers now, but are watching your current value PREPOSITION to see if they want to do business with you.

Just some thoughts as we collide coast into our weekend.


GOP_Candidates_2012After tonight, Iowa becomes relatively irrelevant for another 2-3 years. Forgive me if I seem rather callous about that, as it is a great privilege to kick the tires on the candidates for leader of the free world. With great power comes great responsibility, as the Spiderman movie stated. However, usually by caucus night, most Iowans are ready to bid adieu to all of the attention.

Unlike four years ago, this is a 1-party caucus (oh, sure, the Democrats will hold a caucus, but good luck getting anybody to attend). It's pretty much all about the Republicans, and they've provided enough of a circus this election cycle. I will admit: I sort of geek out on all of the political analyses, the rhetorical analysis of advertisements, the jockeying for position, etc.

What's been interesting this time around is the value statement of each of the candidates: we have the social conservative crowd (Perry, Bachmann, Santorum), the overhaul government crowd (Gingrich, Paul), and the electable crowd (Romney).

Yes, that's a little tongue-in-cheek. Evidently, being a candidate who campaigns on ideals is too scary these days. We've developed a couple of different camps of those who want to "shore up the base" and those who want to win the independent vote. If the candidate is perceived as "too scary" they are discounted.

A candidacy is an accomplishment of sorts with the outcome of winning as the goal (either the nomination or the election). So branding the accomplishment is always key, and one of the important things about branding is the value statement. I'm not going to go so far as to say which branding value statement is the "right" one as value is exceptionally subjective. The candidate I perceive as being the "right one for the job" would make somebody else want to wretch. 

I see this occurring on projects occasionally. Two people are on the same initiative but have two vastly different views of what "winning" looks like. It usually results in an OMG moment when fantasy and reality collide.

As a project manager, it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that all key stakeholders who have a "vote" (actual or implied) are in agreement with the "win." It may require multiple means and multiple meetings, but getting project stakeholders on the same page. (But, as in everything, it is possible to go too far to make your point, as seen with many of the candidates. And to the Perry, Bachmann, Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney camps: Please quit calling my house every 10 minutes!)

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