Jack Martin Leith devised the V-Spec template and accompanying process as a way of understanding and appreciating the value requirements of each beneficiary group and, when necessary, particular individuals within these groups.
In the emerging 3.0 stage of our economy, there is a shift of awareness that extends the natural self-interest of the players to the entire ecosystem. Ecosystem awareness means having the ability to operate with a mind that perceives a problem from all of the perspectives in a given social-ecological system (rather than only from one’s own) and to internalize the concerns and issues of the other players in one’s own decision-making.
Source: Seven Acupuncture Points for Shifting Capitalism to Create a Regenerative Ecosystem Economy, by Otto Scharmer.
You and your fellow team members will need to aside any judgements about which value requirements are valid and which are not. Disapproval is likely to hinder the successful accomplishment of the project.
Here is the V-Spec template:
The V-Spec template and process enable you to consider each beneficiary group in turn and determine what new value might be generated, what existing value must be preserved, what anti-value generation must be halted, and what value must be sacrificed for the good of the whole.
The underlying hypothesis states that if a Prospero project meets the value requirements of the various beneficiary groups (and perhaps specific individuals), then the project will be supported or—at the very least— its progress will not be hindered.
New value to be generated
What unmet needs might the new creation satisfy?
Existing value to be preserved
What current value generation must continue? What interests must be protected?
Anti-value generation to be halted
What sources of anti-value generation need to be eliminated?
Anti-value is the degenerative counterpart of value. Anti-value is more than dissatisfaction. It manifests as an experience of physical pain or emotional upset arising from a poorly designed or malfunctioning value generator, or from the denial of previously received and possibly taken for granted value.
Value that must be sacrificed for the good of the whole
When the termination of currently received value cannot be avoided, the resulting anti-value (such as disappointment, anger or grief) must be foreseen and mitigated. Those suffering the loss of value may need some form of compensation. If nothing else, the loss must be acknowledged and the reasoning explained.
Some ways of determining value requirements
1. Qualitative research
A qualitative research agency or practitioner can be commissioned to convene focus groups and conduct one-to-one interviews with one or more members of each beneficiary group in turn, in order to determine their value requirements. If necessary, research can be conducted among several organisations within the same beneficiary group, or with multiple individuals within the same organisation.
Another effective way of eliciting the required information and insights is to convene an Open Space meeting with participants drawn from the beneficiary group under consideration. The participants run sessions in which they discuss their thoughts and feelings about the proposed new creation, with members of the Prospero project team listening in and taking notes. This approach has been used successfully by McCain Foods, Jisc and other organisations.
- Venue with seating arranged cabaret-style
- Time: at least half a day; ideally an entire day
- Explorers: members of the Prospero project team
- Beneficiary group representatives
The day is divided into equal-length sessions, each of which is focused on a specific beneficiary group, such as society, partners, investors, customers, employees, the media, trades unions, and government. The number of sessions is equal to the number of beneficiary groups to be explored, plus the opening and closing sessions.
Example session: Investors
The purpose of this session is to enable Prospero project team members put themselves into the shoes of investors in order to determine the value they require from the new creation.
During the session, the explorers immerse themselves in the world of investors. A representative from this world, such as a fund manager, describes a typical day in his or her work life.
If it is not possible to enlist the services of an investor, a member of the project team takes on this role having done extensive research in advance of the workshop.
Working as a whole team or in sub-groups, the explorers discuss what they have heard and prepare a set of questions for the fund manager. When the questions have been answered, the explorers put themselves into the shoes of investors and specify the value they would like to receive from the new creation.
The value requirements are recorded on a wall-mounted V-Spec template.
3. Thought experiments
Sometimes it is sufficient to adopt the perspective of a customer, supplier, investor and so on, and imagine them telling you about their value requirements.
4. Other approaches
Specifying value is a painstaking process
The understanding, appreciation and attempted satisfaction of people’s value requirements, even if they are hard to fathom, springs from a heartfelt desire to enrich the world. Consequently, completing the V-Spec is painstaking work and not a form-filling exercise.
Specifying value forms part of the Readiness Process
Read more about Readiness work