Value-Focused Activity Framework

Success in the world of business is not a function of pure luck. Rather, companies that have succeeded in the past and are still thriving today have done so through deliberate value creation that leads to strong and sustainable futures for all stakeholders. In this four part article we share with you a simple framework for aligning activities to the path of real value creation.

JUNE 2012 • Tsuwa Thompson

In This Article

  • Introduction

  • Part 1: Strategic Value – What is it?

  • About the authors


To be a stellar student in any academic institution demands no more than an average score of seventy-five percent. This score believe it or not, represents an 'A' which is a distinction and would almost definitely put any hardworking student at the top of the class. In the same way, to excel in business and to rise above competition is not to score one hundred-percent. Rather it is all about honing one's organisational resources and succeeding in the critical value creating activities that lead to tangible results for the stakeholders.

Yet the path to real value creation seems to be a hard road to walk, for a lot of business leaders. The hustle and bustle in the business arena coupled with the complex challenges they face in their companies, makes the idea of a sustainable future sound more like a fluke, than a real possibility. The question is this; 'can these leaders turn the tide around and redirect their businesses to embrace a value creation orientation that will give rise to a stronger wave of performance?' 'Can they build sustainable futures in such a dynamic and disruptive market?'

Part 1: Strategic value – What is it?

Too often we find ourselves inundated with so much work and lost in a maze or should I say amazed about how we got there.
One question that always crops up like a cliché, is 'which task or activity should I handle first?'

The answer we offer is this; throw everything else aside and work on that task or activity that is of strategic value. The big question is what is strategic value? Picture a boardroom of company executives even on their Board level going back and forth and trying to ascertain what is really important to their company. Imagine the arguments, the politicking and rhetoric and you start to get an idea about how difficult it could be to define what is of strategic value to any organisation and on any level in the organisation.

An online dictionary1 defines strategic value as what is necessary to or important in the initiation, conduct, or completion of a strategic plan and of great importance within an integrated whole or to a planned effect. Sachin Rekhi's blog2 goes a step further and says that it refers to those activities that lead to an organisation building itself in such a way to maximize potential value to a larger organization that will ultimately benefit from an acquisition of the organisation's start-up.

In my words, any action, thing, person, asset, etcetera that facilitates the achievement of individual or corporate vision, its objectives and or plans (that are of high intrinsic worth) can all be labelled as being of strategic value.

A simple illustration is that of a bridge that separates two enemies. To one the bridge allows their army to cross the river and defeat their foe. To the other, the bridge represents a possible setback. What is of strategic value to these opponents?

  • To the former, getting across the bridge would be his/her definition of strategic value.

  • To the latter, blowing up the bridge and impeding the enemy would be the strategic move to make i.e. strategic value.

This illustration tells us something about 'strategic value', it is relative in nature. In a world that is changing and moving at a faster pace everyday, we find that our goals, objectives, or plans are consistently changing and so will our definition of what we say is strategic value.

Let us take our minds back to our maze of work on our desks. The question that we should be asking ourselves is which of these tasks when completed will truly be of strategic value to my company? For any employee to be able to answer this question he/she must know the strategic direction of the company. Bannister and Remenyi (2005)3 in their paper discussed six domains of strategic value (Figure 1) and the corporate goals of most companies exist in a combination of these domains.

Figure 1 – Six Domains of Strategic Value.

Laban and Green4 in their review paper said, 'the best strategic plans in the world are not likely to be successful if they are not effectively communicated to those who must implement them: the employees'. We can safely say that if we do not understand the strategic domains that our companies have chosen to sit in, then our contributions, our weekly forty hours of work, will be of no strategic value to our organisations.

So we must all go back to the beginning. We must go back to the firm's vision statement wherein lies the picture of what value is and the value we are aiming to create. Figure 2.

Figure 2 – The Vision: the organisation's core essence and value determinant.

The reality that all leaders must embrace is that every other activity they engage in from strategic management, to operational efforts and customer service delivery is born of the vision. Putting it simply, the company and all its appendages must be aligned to the vision if anyone is to succeed in creating real value for our companies.

For Part 2 of the Article, Click Here >>>

About the Author

Tsuwa Thompson is the Chief Executive Officer of RtHE Consult Limited.

Part 1 References.

  1. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
  3. Bannister, F and Remenyi, D (2005) "Why IT Continues to Matter: Reflections on the Strategic Value of IT" The Electronic Journal Information Systems Evaluation Volume 8 Issue 3, pp 159-168.
  4. Jake Laban, MBA and Jack C. Green, PhD, "Communicating Your Strategy - The forgotten fundamental of strategic implementation" Graziadio Business Review 2003 Volume 6 Issue 1.