Creating value is the act of creating something worthwhile – something that benefits one or many. We should all strive to create create value in everything we do. Creating values is the responsibility of all conscious, aware human beings. To not do so is to waste your valuable existence and this would be a shame of existential proportions.
But what exactly is value creation? Let’s break it down.
Creating is to bring about something new. There is a lot of material out there that goes into how to do this, we have several articles of our own, and we intend to keep writing more. However, to summarize, the act of creating involves integrating two or more concepts together to create a new idea.
Value is typically that which adds value to one’s life, whether that be an individual, a group, or the whole of society. Values are benefits, improvements, they alleviate suffering, reduce cost, increase availability.
Technology is what gives humans more control over the environment. From the first stick picked up by our ancestors, we have been creating new concepts to give us more power to shape and respond to our environment.
Of course we all know that technology is a double edged sword. Many technological creations are capable of both creating and destroying values. But technology is not something that can be stopped, despite the attempts of some minority “Luddite” groups. Technology is simply part of the evolution of the universe. Our minds are geared for creating values, and this often results in new technology.
So how do we go about Creating Values?
You don’t need to be creative to create values. But you do need to utilize certain skills, which we will now discuss.
Given that Values are that which add benefits to one’s life, in order to create them, we must become aware of the human condition. It’s all about people. Human behavior is the variable that drives our technological evolution. It is a very complex variable and this is why it may seem difficult to decipher at first. But you are a human too, and the ability to understand human needs is built into you.
Understand Human Needs
To do this, simply Observe. Watch the world, and pay special attention to where people are happy or unhappy. Figuring out what makes them happy or unhappy is a key to creating new values. Try and find out what are the influences that affect happiness.
Also look at cost, efficiency, functionality and availability. Given that these criteria affect happiness, think about how can they be improved. Many new values are simply existing values that have been improved. In fact, nearly all of them are. Remember I said that creating involved integrating two or more concepts into a new idea? You will see this to be true when you start creating values by making improvements to what already exists. All you need to do is to take an existing concept and improve it by applying another.
Take the iPhone as an example. Apple didn’t invent the phone from nothing, they just improved on it by applying another, already existing concept to it – the touch screen. They then improved it even further by making it dual touch, and even further still by developing killer software. This multi-layering of improvements is perhaps the secret to their success – most new ideas are only single improvements of existing concepts.
Understand Human Responses
As well as looking at the status quo, pay attention to how both individuals and society respond to changes. This information should be in abundance, given that the world is currently changing so fast and that this change is accelerating.
How people respond to change is very revealing. It shows how people really think, how they let their emotions, their desires, their hopes and their fears dictate their actions. It is their emotions that reveal what they value. Knowing what they value will enable you to create new value for them and improve their lives.
Of course you are a human too. So engage with others. Live your life alongside other people and learn what makes you tick as well. You are the person with which you are closest, so you have the unique privilege of seeing the innermost desires and emotions of yourself. Yes you are different from others, but humans share many common ideals, hopes and fears. Compare yours with others to help you figure out how can I improve this? How can I get more from the world and benefit myself? The answers will point you in the direction of how to create more for others and this is the nature of Creating Values.
Document Human Needs and Behavior
Humans are complicated and their behavior is not always predictable. However, when you understand human needs, you will be see patterns emerge. It is important that you keep a record of these patterns to help yourself remember. This documentation will help you formulate a plan to create values based on human responses and needs.
Create Values Based on Your Observations
When you figure out what makes people tick, how they respond to the environment, what drives them and what they see as benefits, you can begin the task of creating new values to take advantage of this knowledge. The first step, like it should be in all acts of creation, is deliberate design.
Design is about customizing an idea to meet certain needs. Often these needs might be aesthetic, and this can be very important, especially if your chosen field of value creation is artistic. But aesthetics are more of a “want” than a “need”. They are still important, especially with regards to improving culture, marketability, and sometimes usability, but they are not the focus of this article.
From a business/technological point of view, design needs to give most consideration to functionality. This is the attribute that will lend itself most to fulfilling human need. Functionality is the essence of a creation, its purpose, its reason for existing. Functionality should solve some human need, and that should be the focus of your design.
Work to incorporate some level of functionality into your created values – functionality that fulfills a human need. It should improve on a current concept in one or more areas. The more the better, but you may find that each improvement is the basis for a new tree of ideas – and every route can be followed to create numerous values.
Just remember the most important aspect of design and constantly ask yourself – how does this fulfill human needs?
The often missed step of value creation is the act of creation itself. Turning the idea into a physical reality is perhaps more important than the idea itself. Many people have ideas, but until this idea is turned into reality – it is nothing more than an electrical signal that will disappear when you die. It does not have any effect on humanity, it will not improve anyone’s life, and it will not provide you with any income. Thoughts are nothing without actions.
Even designs drawn on a page are nothing until they are made into something real, because the design itself has no purpose, no impact.
Only when something is built in real life do you find out if it really works – and what its consequences will be. For every value creating action comes a seemingly infinite tree of implications, it’s impossible to know how your creations will impact everybody, and what effects they will have on the world.
This is the exciting bit. This is what gives life meaning. Your creations open the doors to other creators to build on your creations. Every creation is a combination of two or more existing concepts – therefore – your new concept will become one of the concepts in a whole new creation. In this way, you become immortal. Sure, it’s not in the way that Woody Allen would have liked, but this is our destiny, our purpose.
And perhaps most importantly, it is the only legitimate route to prosperity.