Meaning Vs. Value – Making the Tough Decisions

This Mothers Day, my 10 year old daughter gave my wife a very small planter with a couple of flower seeds tucked just below the surface.  From my wife’s point of view, that planter has very little “value” … it probably cost a dollar … but, it had a great deal of “meaning” because it was hand-made and delivered with great care and love.

A couple of years ago I met with a client’s Chief Financial Officer to go over the return on investment (ROI) figures for the corporate initiatives they had been conducting.  Our conversation drifted to a part of the company that was left out of the planning process.  The metaphor sacred cow came to mind.  This division was a pet project of the CEO and was considered immune to criticism. For the CEO, that division had a great deal of “meaning.”  For the CFO, it had very little “value.”

More recently, a regional company moved their headquarters into glitzy new office space.  Each executive had a plush office, but there was very little “buzz” in the atmosphere as most of the staff was ‘sales’ or ‘consultants’ and spent most of their time with customers or prospects.  The conversation with this CFO was a bit different.  She said the office had great “value” … even in this market, they were paying dearly for the address, but very little “meaning.”  She said her competitors were going virtual and the cost of the plush office space was going to make them less competitive.  And the staff cared less how nice their bosses’ offices were decorated!
So the question is this … are you making sound business decisions on “meaning” or “value.”  Keep this chart in the back of your mind when you are faced with a conflict.  Ask the question from the viewpoint of the stakeholders in your company.  Is there meaning for the stakeholders?

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