Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.

TIm's coffeeWhen we talk about value I find most people still get it wrong. If our projects are being effective we are maximizing the value delivered to our customers. In other words we create an environment allowing them to learn what features they need and only deliver those features. Too often I see teams who define value as being delivering the greatest number of features possible. Today I found a great analogy helping people understand what I mean when I say “value”.

When I go to Tim Horton’s and order coffee I’m looking for value for the money spent. They pour me a coffee in a cardboard cup and put a lid on it.

Ultimately the coffee is the thing I hold as the most valuable component. However, the coffee isn’t overly valuable to me without the cup. The cup provides the manner in which I can actually take the liquid and hot coffee back to my desk. So the cup is an important part of the value definition for me.

The lid on the other hand is of questionable value. Many people automatically argue we need to have the lid. But I don’t need the lid to derive value for the money spent? Sure I have to be a little more careful when carrying my coffee around but I can make do just fine without it. In fact, without the lid on the coffee it cools a little quicker so I can actually get to drinking my coffee sooner. It’s possible for that reason alone the lid actually lowers the value of the product.

Now if not having a lid meant I could have a donut for the same money, then the value proposition becomes even easier. If I’m hungry I’d rather not be forced to have a lid.

So the next time you’re in discussions about value for your customer make sure you differentiate between the cup and lid. Value is in maximizing the amount of work not done.

All this from my empty cup on the table.

Building Great Teams

Building Great Teams

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