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Perceived Value vs. Real Value

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Nineteen years ago I spent 5 months living in Japan as an exchange student.

Like all exchange students, my time was spent partially in study and partially as a tourist - discovering the richness of Japanese culture, cuisine, and countryside. 

During my time in Japan, I became fascinated with Origami. There is incredible creativity unleashed from the confines of a paper square. 

I began to collect different origami paper to bring back home. On one occasion, at an ancient Japanese castle, I picked up some handmade origami paper. 

In my mind, it was special because it was probably handmade with a special method passed down for the last 400 years. It had value. Value based on where I got it, the passion I had for origami at the time, and the memories I associated with seeing the simple square paper.

Over time, the value to me grew. When I moved house (multiple times) I could never bring myself to discard the origami paper. It always returned to the storage box.

Special. Valuable.

My family discovered my Japanese origami paper recently while unpacking storage boxes. I left some out, thinking perhaps I would try my - very long forgotten - origami skills.

Instead I found origami paper being used as a note pad. Perfectly square, great for writing on. “I am going to get the kids, be home soon” the note said.

Suddenly I was crushed. How could my wife not know the special value I placed on my origami paper? How could she not see the care to which I had taken to preserve this priceless relic of my Japanese adventures?

The real value of my paper? Pennies.

I perceived a higher value than the real, true value. I made decisions based on the high value I placed on my origami paper. 

How often do we place a higher perceived value than an item is really worth?


Do not focus on your perception of value - focus on the value it brings to others.

Are we pouring company hours into building a flashy social media platform and online following while neglecting the day to day grind of actual productive work? 

Work to clarify real value. 

The television series Antiques Roadshow is famous for helping unsuspecting collectors find the real value of their items. While not everyone profits, enough people have found surprising value in items to keep the show on air since 1979.

How might our perception of value be driving our decision-making?

Perhaps we emphasise the value we bring to an organisation, while our family life languishes? Kids wondering if we will come to a sports event, a partner wondering if we’ll be home for dinner.

Steve Jobs famously cuts Apple’s products by 70% upon his return to the company in the 1990’s. Apple was almost bankrupt at the time, focusing on pursuing products or development lines which were not easily realised as money-makers. The perception of “more is better” dictated, in some ways, decision making.

From 26 different offerings down to four. Steve Jobs created clarity around real value, for real consumers. 

www.hellostepchange.com

www.hellostepchange.com

Do not focus on your perception of value - focus on the value it brings to others.

In your own life, What can you do today to gain clarity around the real value of things held dearly? 

They may, in fact, be incredibly valuable. Don’t let them go. Or they may, upon reflection, be let go.

In your work, strive to gain clarity around how your customers hold the value of what you offer.

You may just find your product or service is worth more than you imagined.