How to Evaluate Value

  Measures of value_power rank status

“The value of a thing sometimes lies not in what one attains with it,

but in what one pays for it — in what is costs us.”


Steve Jobs founded Apple to initial success. Then he got pushed out. So he went to his desert — i.e. NeXT — to build the actual operating system (OS) he thought he had, but didn't. Only when he was solid there (make it right), he was able to “rescue” Pixar (make it work.)

   Thus he got the funding and the energy in the form of intellectual, human, and social capitals to be invited back into Apple and put the OS with his original design taste (make it better.) The second round at Apple he was able to vision through the fundamentals (make it mine.)

    Hence mastery, where the core became visible (the bite out of the Apple in the symbol.) From that point on, simplicity became a mantra at the organization and design of experience an organizing principle for making product choices.

    It's a modern parable I use to illustrate the power of making things right for ranking and status, which are typically the things we pursue first. We want to rank high as members of a group, which is determined socially. Status is an intentional style derived by temporary behavior. Power we intend as both psychological and emotional empowerment.

    When we see Steve Jobs as the founder and developer of Apple Computer, he was spectacular. He had an intense imagination, vision, and belief in things that had yet to be discovered. He was able to find the right people, learn the right things to move the product forward.

1. build the most valuable brand

    This is a compressed version of what happened. Just the highlights to illustrate how the most valuable brand — according to market power and the rankings of both Interbrand Best Brands# and Accenture Love Index# — came to be.

    In fact, Steve Jobs' work to make sense of what needed making right started many years before the founding of Apple Computer. His work at Atari and trip to India informed much of his thinking on Zen and the appreciation of intuition as a skill. 

    After seven months in Indian villages, he was able to

see the craziness of the Western world as well as its capacity for rational thought. if you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to clam it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things — that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and to be present more.

Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It's a discipline; you have to practice it.

    It's a quote I found in Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs. His observation that:

The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead, and the intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world… Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.

Western rational thought is not an innate human characteristic, it is learned and it is the great achievement of Western civilization. In the villages of India, they never learned it. They learned something else, which is in some ways just as valuable but in other ways is not. That’s the power of intuition and experiential wisdom.

    Became useful in understanding how people make key decisions, especially as more choices become available. Simplicity, ease of use, make Apple devices engaging and relevant. Other characteristics like fun, social, and helpful matter to sustaining love for the brand.

2. develop motivation

    Our values are based on our sense of self and the type of experiences we have in our formative years. According to psychology professor Dan McAdams#, who developed of a life-story model of human identity, we internalize what happens to us through the formative years and into old age in layers.

    How we come to be who we are follows a pattern. Through his research, McAdams found# three distinct layers of personality — the social actor who expresses emotional and behavioral traits, the motivated agent who pursues goals and values, and the author, who develops life's narrative.

    During his exile at NeXT, Jobs engaged in deep conversations with the industry he loved, and managed to continue his work on his vision of bringing technology to individuals. NeXT was his Part of “what's next” in learning. He was the motivated agent who pursued goals and values he had expressed earlier on in his quest for identity.

    When Jobs started his quest for a corporate identity, he called on Paul Rand who was best known for his corporate logo designs, including the logos for IBM, UPS, Enron, Morningstar, Inc., Westinghouse, and ABC. Someone had given him books to read on Rand.

    In a 1993 interview#, Jobs explains how he was intrigued by the IBM poster Rand had designed and how Rand solved a problem they had at NeXT — identifying the company not just with logotype, but also with a symbol, like Apple. Without the ten years and 100 million dollars spent on associating the words with the symbol.

3. create power with a good idea

    Rand came up with the jewel. This has value to Jobs and the team at NeXT, delivering the promise of meaning and the pleasure of recognition. He solved the business problem with a good idea. Rand's work was motivated by principles of design, he communicated as four simple rules:

1. A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around. In other words, it can only be as good as the organization it represents.

2. The only mandate in logo design is that they be distinctive, memorable, and clear. Jobs described the IBM logo as “powerful, emotional, delightful.”

3. Presentation is key. NeXT's target market was education, but Rand included in the brief other characteristics like excellence, expertise, exceptional, and excitement.

4. Simplicity is not the goal, it is the byproduct of a good idea and modest expectations. Setting expectations is important to experience. Rand walked the talk, as he made clear to Jobs, “I will solve the problem, and you'll pay me for it. You can use it, or not. But I will solve your problem. If you want options, go to others.”

    Principles develop motivation for deciding what is valuable as we pursue goals. According to Jobs, Rand was a very deep thinker who lived his life as its author. He could write with clarity, because he had developed the ability to think well.

    NeXT the product was a good idea. Object-oriented technology opened a whole new market where hunks of things were available for developers so they could go where everyone else isn't. Hardware was the missing piece that would make Apple so powerful as an integrated product and experience upon Job's return in 1997.

4. measure value

    Experience is a measure of value. Going back to Interbrand's Best Brands, it's significant that the top eight brands for 2017 include the Big Four, as Scott Galloway calls them — Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook have leading roles in our lives — and technology companies Microsoft and Samsung. 

    Accenture's Love Index 2016 agrees, ranking Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook among the top ten experience leaders. The most-loved companies setting the pace in the United States for brand experience across industries include Microsoft, Samsung and also Netflix, Sony, and Fitbit.

    While Interbrand's ranking metrics are proprietary, a look at the interactive data charts# reveals relative positions of organizations, which is helpful to orient our thinking. Accenture's qualitative and quantitative analysis found that each industry has a shape and areas of opportunity along the five dimensions of service and experience value.

    We use brands as shortcuts, but increasingly our experience is online, where contextual relevance and helpfulness do matter. Most favorite brands are digital companies. Walmart made the top ten due to its digital strategy.

    Netflix was Accenture's Love Index most loved company in the U.K. and Brazil. It's not surprising, as Netflix uses content to trade in culture. The service is fun, engaging, and relevant because it provides that experience to us.

    Digital experiences have transformed how we think about value — we may not like Amazon or Google or Facebook as companies, but we use their portals frequently, maybe daily to access what we want. The opportunity for competitive brands to stand out is in the areas of weakness. For example, social and community, and fun.

    When we're using a service that aggregates and ranks information — TripAdvisor and Booking are other examples — we get back information on pricing, availability, comparisons, and characteristics of the experience through reviews.

    Apple is an interesting case, because we access our creative persona using their products — we like the products to the extent that the experience is about us, and delivers on expectations of simplicity. It will be interesting to follow the company's product evolution.

5. evaluate value

    As Nietzsche said, we value things that cost us. But cost and price are not the same. Cost is more like prize, as Steve Jobs alluded to in his keynote as returning Apple CEO in 1997. Something we earn through work, participation, and what we stand for, because we act on our beliefs.

    Value also comes from convenience. But increasingly, we are looking for products and services that fill a very specific need. Take the concept of micro-moments or instances of helpfulness, and we can design value around making it powerful and unique.