Nathan Shedroff on The Creation of Value

Nathan Shedroff’s barn-burner of a keynote focused on the creation of value and the difference between qualitative and quantitative value. This talk was originally scheduled to close out the conference on Wednesday and structurally that would have made sense but it really helped to cut through my jet lag so I’m happy that it showed up when it did.

Service designers have been aware of the gulf between design and business for years but generally the solutions have revolved around designers appropriating the language of business. Chris Downs gave advice on that topic at the second Emergence conference in Pittsburgh seven years ago. More recently, books like Business Model Generation come to mind. Even here in Stockholm, Lavrans Løvlie made a similar observation about the utility of translating for business needs.

I don’t think that Nathan is necessarily opposed to that. He joked that at CCA he’s training the “right” kind of MBAs. But mostly he made an impassioned call to push back against the idea that price and functionality are the only aspects of value that matter or indeed that those are the only things that can be measured. Richard Buchanan made a similar argument a few years ago in the context of his work at the Weatherhead School of Management.

Nathan’s presentation here in Stockholm spoke to the creation of financial and functional value and how MBAs generally focus on quantitative value because that’s what they’re taught how to measure. Nathan outlined how price and functionality complement meaning, identity and emotion as co-equal elements of value. I appreciated his articulation that value exists in the context of a relationship and that relationships happen in the context of an experience.

There’s a lot of great stuff to dig out of this keynote including some interesting visualizations. I’ll circle back with an update once the videos and presentation materials are available.

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