When does “Added Value” add No Value?

We go to Cornwall most years as my dad is from that way and it is a beautiful part of the country.  Without fail, when we passed a particular village, my dad would pipe up with his favorite joke,

“When is a bridge, not a bridge?”

“I don’t know dad, when is a bridge not a bridge?” I would reply

“When it’s Notter Bridge”

Cue tumbleweed.

notter bridge

Needless to say, I put my kids through the same torture every time we pass that way now.

I have applied the same thinking to a new joke- not sure how funny my son or daughter will find it (not that that has ever stopped me!!)

“Hey Finn, When does Added Value add no Value?”

“What’s Added Value daddy?”

“When it is “Added Value!!”

value add

Cue tumbleweed and a confused look.

But, what it lacks in comedy genius, it makes up for in accuracy.

Added value seems to have lost its meaning.  Everything is “Added Value”.  Its almost as though the actual service has been stripped away and split into various stages to makes up “value add”.  In many cases, you can replace “added value” with “opportunity to upsell”.

Would you like the new Columbian blend sir?

Would you like the anti-stain covering on your new sofa sir?

Would you like Payment Protection Insurance on that loan sir?

And recruitment has caught on to this, but often at the detriment of the overall service.  I have seen too many processes over-complicated by adding additional assessments, tests or presentations which don’t actually aid the process.  If anything, they create a clunky, confusing process which often leads to losing some talented applicants.

We have worked on a few pitches for work recently and lost out to a pitch which included a more convoluted process.  The process they chose goes against everything they actually wanted- a slick, pacey process and an opportunity to see the person behind the interview questions.  In essence they’ve been up-sold, but not in a way that will benefit the process- at best it will just be more expensive but add no REAL value.


Well, there are two main reasons and the first is RISK….or PERCEIVED RISK.

Senior executives are under intense scrutiny to make the right decisions and so having numerous layers of “checks, assessments and tests” can give them an audit trail as to why they made a particular decision.

However, what isn’t under scrutiny is whether that is the RIGHT process.

In these scenarios, they have got the best person who “survived” that process- it doesn’t monitor those people that were put off by the process, who dropped out due to the poor experience or those who were ideal but were assessed in the wrong criteria.

For example, if you are assessing a Chief Executive against their ability to go out and chase rent arrears (I promise you, this has happened!), then I argue you won’t get the best person to lead your business!

So next time you are looking to recruit your next Director of Operations or Chief Executive- don’t be blinded by all the flashing lights-ask yourself the following questions:

What will the future “Insert Job title here” be doing?

What skills will they need to possess in order to do that?

How can we assess for those skills?

Will this reflect our organisation appropriately and attract the right people?

Sometimes simple is beautiful (as I keep telling my wife)!