Valuegraphics Applied to Entrepreneurial Thinking

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Valuegraphics Applied to Entrepreneurial Thinking

December 12, 2017

By Amy Woermke

I had the opportunity to attend Haskayne Westman Centre’s Brookfield Speakers Series in mid-November where David Allison, pioneer of valuegraphics, presented a key-note presentation on his research into how understanding customer’s values can create opportunities and generate significant competitive advantages.

Have you ever heard these terms before - Xennial, Zoomers, Perennials, Baby Boomers or Millennials? Chances are you have. Just in case you haven't heard of them,these are the unique nicknames marketers use to group consumers into age-specific buckets. Grouping people by age is much like grouping people by sex. There are some broad generalizations one can make, but when it comes down to it, it is evident, that not all men are the same and neither are all the Millennials.

Allison proposes that ageism is both rampant and sanctioned, and ageist profiling simply does not work. This is because in the 21st century, no one acts their age anymore. Well except for in the boardroom. In the ceremonial boardroom we sit around the table defining our target market based on age, sex, locations, income, etc. The problem with this is that when we typically make purchasing decisions, our decisions are not influenced as much by our age as they are by our values.

So, what if, instead of putting people into demographic categories, we categorize people based on what they care about? This is the question that drove Allison’s research and that ultimately lead to the concept of valuegraphics. His research is the product of 40,000 surveys, each with 340 questions that has been distilled into eight valuegraphic profiles:  that can be applied to any target market in any industry. Simplified, these values are adventurers, workaholics, anti-materialists, order of the overdrawn, savers of society, loyalty lodges, environmentalists, home hunters, creatives, the technology fellowship.

Using valuegraphics is an innovative way of better understanding your target market. So, once you understand your customers’ values, what is the next step? Combining this valuegraphic information with an entrepreneurial thinking tool, such as the Customer Value Proposition Canvas (CVP) will enable you to better understand how to address a customer’s unmet values or to simply distinguish your product offering. Many organizations fail to deliver the value proposition desired by their customers, even fewer are likely to be satisfying the “values” sought by these same customers. The idea of adopting this new, innovative valugraphic concept could assist you answering key questions of an effective CVP: What value do you provide to your clients or customers that your competitors do not? Does your team have a process for identifying value that customers seek in order to continually update your products and services?

Image 1.1: Customer Value Proposition Canvas

Image 1.1: Customer Value Proposition Canvas

In the canvas, you identify the customer jobs, pain and gains which seems straight forward. However, you should also be thinking about the valuegraphics of the market and how it impacts the customer side of the canvas.  Once you start thinking like the customer, you can start giving the customer what they want. This will then lead to developing pain relievers, gain creators and ultimately the product and service which the customer will see as valuable. Then you are able to create your customer value proposition.

The CVP is just one example of entrepreneurial thinking tools and methodologies that can be used to de-risk business development and growth by identifying market-driven products and services that are both valuable and sustainable. Entrepreneurial Thinking is now embedded in the undergraduate and graduate programs at the Haskayne School of Business. It is also offered in a variety of Executive Education open and custom programs designed to prepare managers and business leaders to remain competitive in disruptive industries.

If you are interested in learning more about how to assess your customer’s values to create and capture new value, check out Haskayne Executive Education’sEntrepreneurial Thinking in March 2018. This program is eligible for grant funding which covers 2/3 or program costs. Contact to learn more.

For more information on David Allison's Valuegraphics, visit