what is value

What is Value?

The concept of “value” gets thrown around quite a bit in product development. But what does it mean to deliver value? And exactly what is value? We have some thoughts.

What is Value and how is it measured?

Value is truly subjective. And just like the concept of quality in the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance it can be extremely elusive.

Similarly, it is measured differently depending on who is receiving the value and at what time. For example, these might be some typical units of value:

  • Individual Learning
    A language app will mean that I can enjoy my holiday even more.
  • Being able to work from home
    No commuting. I feel comfortable, safe and more productive
  • Return on Investment
    I expect to get back more than I put in.
  • Make life easier
    A miracle cleaning product, non-iron school shirts, pre-chopped frozen onions, an automatic cat feeder, or perhaps even a personal butler or concierge!
  • Time-saving
    This express train ticket will get me home faster, meaning I can spend more time with my family.
  • Kudos
    This design tool will make my presentation look super impressive!
  • Having fun
    I choose to work with this team because they have great craic.
  • Relationships with others
    Coaching and therapy make me more self-aware and a better leader,
  • Stepping stone to something else
    This training will help me get a promotion or make a career switch.
  • Reduction of risk
    Low-alcohol beer, rather than ‘full-bodied’ wine.
  • Increase in accuracy
    I am more likely to reach a new destination first-time by using an app that uses GPS to guide me there.
  • Better health and safety
    I am less likely to die in an accident if I always wear a sealtbelt.

How do you measure value?

How do YOU value something that you buy? Do you consider sustainability? Accessibility? Perhaps something else is important to you. And you likely consider more than one thing. Maybe some factors matter more to you than others. What’s more, the combination of factors that you consider, and in what importance, will be different from those that I do. And different again from someone else. 

Value, being subjective, means different things to different people.

what is value

Next, let’s explore different kinds of product value…

Customer-Centric

First of all, value isn’t defined by output or features. True value means enabling specific outcomes and benefits for customers. It’s about understanding their struggles and goals at a human level and serving them better through our products. Features are merely the means, not the ends. If you want to understand output vs. outcome better, this article is a great place to start.

Ongoing Through Validated Learning

Delivering ongoing value requires discovering and validating real problems early on, not making assumptions. This means constant engagement with actual users through prototypes and feedback loops—not just boardroom conjecture. The rhythm of build-measure-learn translates insights into innovations users want.

Organisational

Next, there’s organisational value to consider. A team low on psychological safety, or who aren’t aligned, won’t reach their potential in value creation, no matter how lean their process is. Technical excellence and reliability matter too. Shortcuts undermine operational value longer-term.

Ecosystem

Finally, let’s not forget ecosystem value! Customers don’t view products in isolation but as part of their overall experience. To drive adoption and loyalty, we must provide value within a broader context of partnerships and flows. Understand more about ecosystems in business here.

So in summary, true value isn’t any single thing. It’s about people, possibilities and the connections between them. With so many perspectives to integrate, delivering consistent value requires product experts to take a broad, empathetic and lifecycle view. We marry vision with practicality to guide organisations towards outcomes that humanise business and technology alike.

Are you a Product Leader, working tirelessly to meet the expectations of your customers and stakeholders? Create Products Your Customers Love: Your free guide to continuous value delivery is a guide written for leaders just like you.

Download your free copy now.

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