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What Will We Value Post COVID-19?

Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

I noted the following story making its rounds on social media these last few days. No original source was found for this rather thoughtful piece.

Before he died, a father said to his son; “Here is a watch that your grandfather gave me. It is almost 200 years old. Before I give it to you, go to the jewellery store downtown. Tell them that I want to sell it and see how much they offer you.”

The son went to the jewellery story, came back to his father, and said; “They offered $150.00 because it’s so old.”

The father said; “Go to the pawn shop.”

The son went to the pawn shop, came back to his father, and said; “The pawn shop offered $10.00 because it looks so worn.”

The father asked his son to go to the museum and show them the watch.

He went to the museum, came back, and said to his father; “The curator offered $500,000.00 for this very rare piece to be included in their precious antique collections.”

The father said; “I wanted to let you know that the right place values you in the right way. Don’t find yourself in the wrong place and get angry if you are not valued. Those that know your value are those who appreciate you, don’t stay in a place where nobody sees your value.”[1]

What has happened to value in this pandemic, COVID-19 landscape? There is so much that we used to place value on that now, appears to have little or no importance. 

The big, corner office with a magnificent view? We can work from home now (and many companies are seeing similar or better performance). A trip to the mall for new shoes? Amazon will deliver them the next day for free. What about a nice car to commute in or an apartment on the subway line? We have discovered that we can work from anywhere in the world and be productive. The list goes on and on. From boardrooms to virtual conferences, classrooms to virtual training, the things we value have changed.

Now we value stable internet, speedy delivery and great online selection. How stable with this be though? Will we revert to pre-COVID practices? Personally, I think our global environment has been forever, indelibly changed. The frightening thing is that it will continue to change, and the iteration intervals will get shorter and shorter. 

In 2019, I wrote my dissertation on value measurement in police services using the Maturity Institute’s (MI) Omnidex OM30 measurement tool (a copy of my dissertation is available here).

Tools like the OM30 were able to measure the value of organisations before COVID. There are however many questions that need answers in the coming months.

  • Will prior measurement tools work as well in the “new normal”?

  • Does something new need to be developed?

  • Will plain box buildings with shipping bays, a handful of staff, full of automated hardware become the new “retail outlet”? How will that impact stakeholders and shoppers?

  • How will we measure the value of an artificial intelligence that handles tasks formerly done by human capital?

  • If social distancing, structured shopping paths, masks and definitive counts at stores becomes commonplace, how long will consumers put up with it? Will they just say, “it’s not worth it” and go back online?

  • We know how important things like the user experience (UX) were before. What about now when that is the principal or only method of accessing the product?

These are just a handful of the questions that run through my mind each day. There are obviously many more that can be asked.

As organisations struggle to redefine, realign and redesign their processes, the need for effective value measures will grow. 

There will still be those that value the “old ways”, and some novelty events or venues may continue to exist. For most, the failure to redefine value and keep pace with the change will result in loss of business and eventually, bankruptcy. To reiterate the anecdote above, for most post-COVID companies, “don’t stay in a place where nobody sees your value.” Instead…evolve, innovate and find those that appreciate what you can offer in whatever form it takes.   

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