The Concept Of Value

The Concept Of Value

Many folks talk about value. I have a distinct suspicion that few have any clear idea of what they themselves mean by the term. And of those few, I suspect each might have a different meaning in mind. I myself attempted to define the term some years ago.

This post doesn’t try to define “value”, but it does suggest how we might broaden and bring about a more shared understanding of the term. Please do suggest how this particular quantification (see below) might be improved.

Quantification As A Means To Shared Understanding

Tom Gilb suggests that to better understand a thing, we might choose to quantify various characteristics of that thing.

Example: Quality

GilbQualityConcept

Quality is characterized by these traits:

  1. Quality describes ‘how well’ a function is done.
  2. Quality describes the partial effectiveness of a function (as do all other performance attributes).
  3. Quality is valued to some degree by some stakeholders of the system
  4. More quality is generally valued by stakeholders; especially if the increase is free, or lower cost, than the value of the increase.
  5. Quality attributes can be articulated independently of the particular means (designs) used for reaching a specific quality level –
    even though all quality levels depend on the particular designs used to achieve them.
  6. A particular quality can be a described in terms of a complex concept, consisting of multiple elementary quality concepts.
  7. Quality is variable (along a definable scale of measure: as are all scalar attributes).
  8. Quality levels are capable of being specified quantitatively (as are all scalar attributes).
  9. Quality levels can be measured in practice.
  10. Quality levels can be traded off to some degree; with other system attributes valued more by stakeholders.
  11. Quality can never be perfect (100%), in the real world.
  12. There are some levels of a particular quality that may be outside the state of the art; at a defined time and circumstance.
  13. When quality levels increase towards perfection, the resources needed to support thoselevels tend towards infinity.

The Concept Of Value

Value: the concept, the noun.

[Note: the Planguage/Competitive Engineering concepts glossary has an entry for Value (*269)]

A ‘value’ is

– A scalar attribute

– reflecting a need

– someone has

Value is characterized by these traits:

  1. Value implies the meeting of ‘a need’ someone has (generally, a someone that matters).
  2. Value is theoretical, at least until someone has something tangible in their hands and can try it out to see it it does, indeed, meet their proposed need, or not.
  3. Value is time-sensitive. What meets someone’s need on a given day may not meet their need a week before, or a week after.
  4. Value attributes (the characteristics of a given need) can be articulated independently of the particular means (designs) used for reaching a specific value level – even though the meeting of each need depends on the particular designs – or strategies – used.
  5. A particular value can be a described in terms of a complex concept, consisting of multiple elementary value concepts.
  6. Value is variable (along one or more definable scales of measure: as are all scalar attributes).
  7. Value levels are capable of being specified quantitatively (as are all scalar attributes).
  8. Value levels can be measured in practice.
  9. Value levels can be traded off to some degree; with other value levels.
  10. Value can never be perfect (100%), in the real world.
  11. There are some levels of a particular value that may be outside the state of the art; at a defined time and circumstance.
  12. When value levels increase towards perfection, the resources needed to support those levels tend increase geometrically.

Quantification Of The Concept Of Value

[TBD – Contributions and suggestions welcomed]

– Bob

4 comments
  1. Too many people use the word “cheap” when talking about value. Cheap will bring inferior product and poor service. Miles at General Electric introduced Value Analysis: retain the function, never jeopardize quality and reduce the costs. Value is superior to cheap or reduced prices.

  2. Shane Morgan said:

    You can have it fast. You can have it cheap. You can have it good. Choose any two.

  3. On the value side, is there something needed about its subjectivity? Something that might be valuable to you might have no value whatsoever to me. And that value might in part be expressed because of emotion rather than logic – hence the entire industry of branding…

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