Business Value is a dream

There is a famous Taoist story about a person dreaming that he is a butterfly and awakens and can’t decide: Am I person who dreamt I was a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming I am now a person?

This is not the kind of dream I meant, when I used that word in the title.

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on…” This is more the kind.

Business Value is based on what people want, and I think that what they want is, for good and bad, mostly a dream. Let me explain.

Into their imagination comes the idea that they have a problem. (Let us assume the root cause of the problem is real.) To some degree they usually see the problem correctly although you do not have to talk to a doctor to know that people often misdiagnose their own problems.

Then they dream of the ‘perfect’ solution. Well, perfect in the sense of the best they can dream, and it is this dream that they want.

By using the word dream, we are suggesting a few things:

  • it has a feeling of magic
  • it may be detached from reality
  • they could imagine a solution that makes no sense in reality, but in their dream the solution works
  • their desire for it can change almost as quickly as one can wake up
  • the dream is difficult to talk about and difficult to be sure we are seeing what they are seeing

And, also, as we feel about some of our own dreams, they sometimes want it with all their heart, no matter how hard it may be to get.

Now, some people take their dreams and ‘make them realistic.’ I am not suggesting that always there is no connection with reality, just that it all starts with the problem and then the dream of the solution.

So, we, who spend our lives trying to fulfill the customers’ dreams, must accept that it is all about dreams. Dreams can change. Nightmares come and go.

And in our dreams as implementors (not customers), if we are as good at dreaming as, say, Steve Jobs, we will imagine the yet-more-perfect solution to the problem. Example: The iPad.

Some of us are very practical. This leads to many good results. But in dealing with dreams, perhaps we practical ones should dream more seriously.

Some people say that Business Value is all about money, but before the money, they must want to buy and that is dreaming, that is mainly ‘desire’ and often evanescent. Yet it becomes brutally real. (Cf. Motorla Zoom just about now. I think.)


What to do about these observations:

  1. Recognize or accept that we are dealing with dreams.
  2. Start to act with the dreamers (a.k.a. customers) as though you are trying to understand their dreams, and make their dreams become real by merging them with our dreams.


I hope these ideas seem readily useful, which probably means that you can see what to do with them in your situation. Given how short this blog post is today and given the topic, I can see for some that may not be true. Patience.




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