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I have a car I bought, new, 17 years ago. Yes, it’s time to replace it. The experiences I am having acquiring another car has got me thinking about the notion of ‘value add’. By that, I don’t mean the mark-up that some car dealers place on the car stickers. Nor am I talking about the economics term ‘value added’ that refers to output. I am talking about what each of us adds to the value of our company. In a way, that’s what the issue is about- output vs. outcome.

 

Shopping for a car has never been easier. The internet provides a wealth of information. I have been able to compare features and pricing, even see the current inventory of the dealers closest to me.

 

The one thing that the internet can’t do is let you touch a car, so I still have to visit a car dealer to kick the tires and drive it around. I can’t say I’ve had very satisfying experiences. Car salesmen are car salesmen – right? Nothing new, I know, but think about this- if I can do practically everything on the internet, why should the car dealers even HAVE salespeople? The ones I dealt with got in the way of me buying – no ‘value add’ there.

 

The additional value could that salesperson have offered to me was to be my advocate and guide for buying the car. They could help me get a better deal than just buying over the internet. They could have asked me about my needs and budget to see if I was looking at the right car. 17 years ago, the car salesperson asked me, “What’s your life going to be like over the next 5 years and will this be the car that best serves you?” There is ‘value add’.

 

That brings me to output vs. outcome. Output is just doing your job: punching the time clock, working with customers, sitting behind the desk. Notice that output isn’t outcome. The outcome for visiting a car dealer was supposed to be getting my business. Those salespeople think they are focused on outcomes, but it’s only outcomes for them. When that previous salesperson was more interested in providing a good outcome for me, that’s when he got results. And results, I may add, for us both.

 

There are many people who can do this. The person that sits behind me at my office get results everyday. She is interested in solving your problem and doing it as quickly and effectively as she can. I’ve never heard her say, “That’s not my job”, if she can’t solve it, she tries to find who can. To me, that’s ‘value add’.

 

We all can get frustrated by the process, politics, and people that get in the way of getting our jobs done. Just for today, think about how you help others get things done. Ask yourself what is your ‘value add’ to your team, you department, and your company. Consider what you can do to solve someone else’s problem and help others realize good results.

 

It was Diogenes that searched, in vain, for an honest man. Let’s hope my searching at car dealerships will be more fruitful. I am not concerned with how many dealers I visit (output), only that I find the right car at the right price (outcome). Wish me luck.

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3 Comments

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  1. Paul Taylor
    Bob

    Interesting way of trying to illustrate this subject, I happen to agree with you. I have applied an Input – Output – Outcome approach ( =  impact & influence on Strategic Direction)  to most of the business & SAP work that I have been involved with over the last 12 years. Only by appreciating the outcome result (and not the output itself) and understanding its impact on the “Big picture” do you really make progress in the right direction.

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  2. Hi Bob,
    do you mind if I link your blog to the Automotive BPX (to be launched in Q4/07)?
    Ute
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  3. Marilyn Pratt
    I wonder if any of us are really objective enough to do that self accessment, but I have to admit Bob, asking oneself that question can provoke a bit of soul-searching that rivals any performance review.  Having a concrete goal of performing at least 3 value add tasks a day would make for better products, organizations, communities and yes, personal lives, too.  Thanks for this thought-provoking piece.
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