Have you ever wondered why values don’t = value? Our leaders (both government and business) always talk about the importance of people, their knowledge and relationships. And the same goes for customers. But when you look around, the first expenses to be cut are people, training, education and health care, not buildings, plant, property or equipment. When did inanimate things (assets) come to be be worth more than our values (relationships, networks, interactions)?
The Answer; A long time ago.
To give you some context, accounting – the systems of checks (credits) and balances (debits) used to measure value both in the public and private sector – was developed more than 5,500 years ago (2000 years before the old testament and 3,000 years plus years before the Bible). This ‘business’ bible – accounting – deems what is valuable (assets) and what is not (expenses). And given the power of this bible, government and business leaders unknowingly make decisions about where and how to allocate their precious resources (and reduce them – like cutting you rather than eliminating the chair on which you are sitting as you read this blog).
The problem can be seen simply in the examples provided below:
- Value = Things, assets (physical) and money (stocks and bonds)
- Values = Employees, customers, knowledge, and relationships.
You get the picture.
Worse, the accounting system documents the things of VALUE that have a positive impact on our economy and business (profits) and the things (VALUES) that reduce them (as expenses). What leader in their right mind would want to commit their organizations limited resources to sources of VALUES (people, relationships, knowledge) when things of VALUE (things) are deemed to be more important (other than such notable exceptions as Apple, Google, Facebook – you get it) and more rewarding. Not many and can you blame them?
Given this reality, it’s time to really understand the ‘old testament’ of business and determine if the biases that are included in it are underlying assumptions that still hold today. If not, it is time to update our business bible and align it with our social and mobile world so that VALUE = VALUES. Once that alignment takes place (by updating the measurement, management and reporting system we all use) the debate about how to align ourselves with what truly matters – Value and Values – will diminish. Who knows, once that is done – we might all get on the same page and work together to grow our economy, improve our well-being and reach our full potential as a country.