Dr Alf poses interesting questions concerning this article from the Harvard Business Review to which I subscribe.
Value propositions may well hinge on one question but the complexities of selling and marketing, plus the changeability of customer perception makes it a movable feast when it comes to actually making any money out of these propositions, regardless of how compelling they are at the time.
Similarly, what is compelling today may not be tomorrow, and with speed of emulation getting faster – what matters more is speed of response or as my old company GE used to put it ”Speed kills competition”.
Dr Alf asks about the applicability of the HBR advice to SME’s.
I tend to think that 90% of SMEs are lifestyle businesses or hobbies, as evidenced by an Accenture survey which also found that because of red tape and the tax system even ambitious SMEs were keen to keep overall headcount down to a maximum of 9 employees or less.
Only 10 % of SMEs are actually viable businesses and most would not know what a Value proposition or UBP was. The UK has a phenomenon touched on by the High Street banks, particularly Barclays, of people starting up SMEs in recessions, not trading and then having them struck off by Companies House, when a full time role emerges.
Leading to Dr Alf’s second reference group, the public sector does not need “value propositions” – rather, the people at the top need to start doing their jobs and the Government and Local Authorities along with the police, the Fire Service, the Ambulance Service and the NHS all need to shrink and reform.
Singapore is able to deliver the same services as the UK public sector for 1/3rd of the cost and 16 other countries are light years ahead of us when it comes to efficiency, worker productivity, outcomes, purchasing and value for money. The UK police have for example a clear up rate for reported crimes of 25%, not a pass mark in any exam I have ever known. We have 1 million civil servants in Central Government with no Empire, yet in 1885 at the height of British Imperial power, we ran the entire thing with 15000 people in an age without computers, mobile phones, distributed data, shared services and wide spans of control. Local Government, the police and the NHS peddle the idea of “savage cuts”, yet Masonic Chief Constables block force mergers and centralized purchasing.
The NHS presides over GPs who allegedly kill 70,000 people a year through misdiagnosis, the worst obesity, dementia and cancer treatment outcomes in Western Europe and 120,000 deaths in hospital through botched operations.
Dr Alf, as a former Financial Director, may find it astonishing that 20% of the entire NHS budget is spent on lawyers, payoffs, secrecy agreements and gagging orders.
A look at the UK’s infrastructure versus what is and has been collected in taxes tells even the most stupid person that something is amiss and that the difference cannot be explained away by “cock-ups” and general waste.
Today, we learn from the Daily Telegraph that in a time of austerity and supposed lack of money, civil servants are striving to spend £1 billion gbp to meet David Cameron’s pledge of spending a set percentage on overseas aid. It is lunacy of the first order but no more than we have come to expect from our over-class of Oxbridge educated civil service mandarins, who are lacking in commonsense, business judgement or appreciation of the real world – and I doubt that they understand value propositions too!