Move from sales-driven to value-creating

Photo by Andy HowellI caught up with the insightful Iain McKenna the other day and he was talking, among other things, about identifying value. Readers of this blog will know this is a subject close to my heart [1], [2], [3].

Working in a development team it’s important to identify business value so that you can make the myriad tiny decisions every day without taking up all of a product owner’s time. It also ensures everyone knows they’re aiming for the same thing, and the right thing.

But identifying business value is critical to the organisation as whole, too, for its products and services. The value may seem obvious, but unless it’s articulated clearly and unambiguously different people will be pulling in different directions.

I’ve encountered several organisations recently which could be described as “sales-driven”. That is, major activity is driven by sales, which means products and services evolve almost exclusively by the short term demands of new sales. That doesn’t sound bad, but it means there is no strategy and no direction. Each new customer wants something different, and so the organisation’s offerings grow features almost randomly. The result is an offering that is very difficult to manage, difficult to evolve, and with no clear market differentiator. Ultimately it actually slows the organisation down and prevents it from responding effectively to competition and change.

Iain emphasised that unless you articulate your products’ value you cannot move from a sales-driven organisation to a value-creating one. And without that it’s difficult to express convincingly the value you can bring to a customer. Of course you can claim it in either case, but only if everyone in your organisation really understands it, and is acting on it, can that claim be meaningfully demonstrated.

It’s another great reason why clearly articulating value is so important.

Photo by Andy Howell