Steve Bosserman on Common vs. Differentiated Value

A follow-up to yesterday’s contribution and in particular to the graphic presented in that article.

Steve Bosserman:

There are two planes, common value and differentiated value, that establish an operating space in which a person divides efforts between giving some or all of what is done to the commonweal versus presenting it for sale in targeted markets.

Due to rapid advances in communication and information technologies, it is increasingly easy to post knowledge in the public domain as condition / problem identification and analyses, solution design and logistics associated with its delivery, education and training materials, and individual / community capacity-building tools and techniques. Well and fine for common value. And if the society to which one belongs covers the essentials for adequate quality of life, well and fine for the person who contributes what is of common value.

The flip-side is what does a person do as a member of a society that does NOT guarantee quality of life essentials? In these circumstances, one cannot sustain oneself or exercise responsibility to one’s family by giving everything away. Instead, it is imperative such individuals provide differentiated value to others and are fairly compensated through a medium of exchange so they can procure these essentials.

Increasingly, differentiated value consists of producing / manufacturing deliverables close to the point of consumption (food, feed, fiber, energy, housing, etc.) or providing what must be accompanied by human touch (social services, healthcare, palliative care, education, etc.). There is a blending of effort and output that yields common value and differentiated value. The important aspect is hitting the critical balance between the two. And as the title of the slide suggests, finding an adaptable yet sound business model to stay on track is mandatory.”

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