How Do You Measure Value?

Value is an interesting and sometimes tricky thing to play with, I like to approach my work considering what a fair exchange of value for all parties might look like. I was contacted this week about speaking at an event which people pay several hundred £££ to attend. All was going well until I enquired about budget to fund speakers. ‘We don’t pay our speakers’, came the reply.

Not the first time I’ve heard this, and in the absence of money, I ask about ‘a fair exchange of value’ instead, and what the promoter thinks that might look like. In this case, and in nearly all others, this question brings forth a stumbling reply leading quickly to awkward silence. The event promoter cannot come up with an answer. I appreciate I may be putting them on the spot, but if as the event promoter/owner you do not know/cannot articulate what value you can create/cocreate for any/all stakeholders, then in the absence of £££ you’re asking for unpaid volunteers, aren’t you? As a friend in my network says, ‘value is subjective’, and that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider it – trickier though it may be to manifest it.

How do you measure value?

More on this subject here, courtesy of Mr Godin

Leading From Anywhere

I’m currently developing some work with Richard Martin, which is giving us cause to examine what leadership is, and how it differs from management. Richard has articulated something helpful which I’d like to share with you.

Leadership can come from anywhere and anyone, whereas management is usually an assigned role. Or put another way:

Leadership: Articulating a vision, setting strategy, inspiring others. Qualitative and outcome-oriented. Whole system.

Management: Focus on delivery, and the organisational and resourcing elements that enable it. Quantitative and output-oriented. Measurement and process.

When I was sketching out the current version of Principles of Work, I got stuck thinking about a suitable image to represent ‘Lead by Example’. Carole suggested I Google ‘leadership’ for some inspiration, so I did, and here’s some of what I found.

Leadership Google Search 1

What an underwhelming response. I kept scrolling and things didn’t get any better.

Leadership Google Search 2

Image after image of anonymous bubble shaped cartoon men pointing, conducting, megaphoning, and striding forth with their legions of dutiful followers. This is not the leadership I’m looking for, and it certainly doesn’t fit with the idea that leadership can come from anywhere and anyone.

I diversified my thinking, starting to include other words into my searches, and I discovered some images of aerobatic display teams at work. I was struck by the many formations these teams adopt, and how frequently, there is no single leader out in front.

Lead by Example copy

I chose this formation to demonstrate leading by example. It speaks to me of trust, and of the possibility that leadership can come into play from any position on the team. As we look at the formation here, it may be that the leader is sitting in the plane at the back – the only position where this whole formation can be viewed from. And as the group switches places, the role of leader can shift too.

How do you define leadership – and what images does it conjure up for you? Let me know your thoughts and I’ll see if I can draw something for you.

Creative Leadership – Essential Reading #4

A brief review of Creativity Inc.

Reminder: This is a short series of book reviews. The four books in this review series are all about creativity, love, art and leadership (at least that’s what they inspire in me). Separately – each one is a super read. Together – they make up the motherlode. If you are looking for insight and inspiration, I strongly recommend you acquire, and read all four. I’m reviewing the four books in the order they came to me.

Creative Leadership - Essential Reading

First up was 101 Things to Learn in Art School by Kit White – a gift to me from the lovely Carole.

Next came The Year Without Pants by Scott Berkun – a recommendation to me from the lovely Heather.

The third book is Steal Like An Artist – by Austin Kleon.

The fourth and final book in this wonderful quartet is Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace. This book was a gift to me from Neil Morrison.

Creativity Inc. is a really well written story about how Pixar came into being, and at first survived, then thrived. The book is shot through with references to many of the famous films that Pixar has produced, which lends the story an engaging familiarity, and it’s the observations about how to get good work done that really resonate most for me.

There are some excellent ‘Proceed Until Apprehended’ type approaches to problem solving.

‘If we allow more people to solve problems without permission and if we tolerate (and don’t vilify) their mistakes, then we enable a much larger set of problems to be addressed.’

I also really enjoyed reading about people, particularly senior management, getting familiar with  the notion that many opportunities and problems are beyond their sight. Getting over yourself and getting comfortable with cooperating and collaborating are essential requirements for a thriving business.

‘I’m an advocate for humility in leaders. But to be truly humble, those leaders must first understand how many of the factors that shape their lives and their businesses are – and will always be – out of sight.’

There’s a fantastic, brief section at the end of the book with loads of snippets and hints, reminders about what good work looks and feels like. When I first spotted this – I read it and wondered if doing so might somehow negate the need to go through the whole book. In fact – reading the snippets first just served to make me more interested in the whole story.

Indiviadually, each of these four books will enhance your approach to cocreating great work. Together – I think they really are an excellent mix of creativity and leadership. Essential reading.