A Value Web

As part of my work with The Value Web, both as a knowledge worker, and as a board member, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the model which underpins it – the “Value Web” or “Business of Enterprise” model developed by MGTaylor.

At the core of the model is the concept of working differently together to change “the game”; as Matt Taylor puts it:

In a zero sum game, there’s a finite amount of resource and the game is to decide how it gets distributed. In an infinite game, the purpose of the game is to continue the game–to grow and expand the resource base and the distribution model.

What is needed to make it work is a willingness to work differently and reconsider the nature of working relationships, client relationships and peer relationships; especially as it pertains to hierarchy. The model suggests a dynamic interplay between consumers, producers and investors, where each actor might fit within multiple roles and the interactions are seen as complimentary and coordinated.

In practice, how this has played out with us – from my perspective – as an organization formed around a set of methods for facilitating collaboration and effective decision-making, is a remake of how we engage on a number of fronts:

With Clients: For me it has helped shape my mental model of engagement, essentially drawing from our tools of collaboration to extend into relationships and contracting. By rethinking the boundaries and purpose of the relationship, “selling services” within this model of engagement doesn’t make a lot of sense; finding a way of working together to create shared value does. It encourages an ethic of co-creation right from the get-go, thinking of how mutual benefit and value can come out of a working relationship that extends beyond simple transactional remuneration.

With Colleagues: In our case, by formalizing a brand identity around the value web itself (by creating The Value Web), we – in effect – created a brand DMZ; a common space for mutual working and collaboration that was neither mine nor yours, but which belonged to the larger working community. But by making it operational (ie a functioning entity which would pursue and complete work), it made the idea of collaborating together concrete and not theoretical. By approaching work as peers and equals, many of the unhealthy dynamics between peers disappeared, and again, the focus tends to stay on creating value, rather than who was getting a cut of what.

What I find fascinating about putting the model into play is the degree of trust, true peering and mutual respect that is required to make it work. This model is something I will be delving into further over the next while. How does trust get manifested and maintained within the network? How do teams work within this construct? What are the principle threats to this type of model? How does it adapt, and what is the balance of robustness or fragility?

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