Effectiveness and Efficiency – a personal observation on value creation

There is much talk about creating value. In a time of economic scarcity, this question of value is at the forefront of many conversations in business.

The idea of using all the raw materials at your disposal and converting these into something useful, functional and beautiful creates value. Gathering raw materials and combining, converting or improving these materials is an age-old concept for value creation. This concept is evident in the acts of sewing, cooking, dressing and styling, use of gifts and skills at work, manufacturing, agriculture and many more activities.

In cooking, multiple ingredients are combined to make a wonderful meal. Using the skill of sewing, a thread, needle and some fabric can make a beautiful dress. In style, multiple layers and accessory pieces make an outfit standout from among the crowd. When two or three or four ideas are combined, they often result in an outcome more powerful than one single idea.

It is always nice to have more resource but to have more resource is not always the constraint. We often do not have control over our ability to generate more resource. We do have the ability to control how we use what we already have. Are we maximizing the use of what we already have?

Sitting in on a session recently about our economic development work, I was amazed listening to stories of entrepreneurs we work with. In places where resources are the scarcest, these entrepreneurs and the locals know how to squeeze every use out of what they have. Often, their very survival is dependent on their ability to be resourceful. As they say scarcity is the mother of invention (and I would add innovation). A mango is not a fruit to just eat raw, but it is also the raw material for jams, juice and candy. Nothing is wasted. In the country of Malaysia where I grew up, the banana plant is used for fruit, for food storage, as a plate and a vegetable. In other cultures, the banana plant is a source for textiles, paper and shelter.

The people that survive, succeed and thrive in life have the ability to use what is on hand to make something great or to be something great. They create value.

I am not proposing that greatness is the end goal. The end goal is the biblical mandate that to whom much is given, much is required – the idea of stewardship.

What do we have on hand today the we have not used to it’s maximum benefit? Whom do we have access to whom we can further partner with and benefit from their skills? What are we wasting or throwing away at a high opportunity cost?

Let’s go and be great and be value-creators. And in the assessment work we do as auditors, let’s find opportunities to encourage those we serve to be resourceful, to maximize use of what they already have and to work together to leverage all strengths and skills to achieve something great.


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