Six “right-brain skills” to deploy when crafting (new) value propositions. 

Being pragmatic by translating best practices and key insights into my day-to-day consulting is something I’m continuously pursuing. Keeping up with relevant business literature is key in developing a clear vision of what is needed in a particular assignment. Once in a while, a striking relation between concepts occurs, that is worth noticing.

Since business models and value propositions of particular businesses, business units, products or services play a central role in my business development role, I was particularly interested in Alexander Osterwalder’s new book: Value Proposition Design. When reading, it became clear to me that conducting business is more dependent on ‘artistic’ skills. Something Dan Pink already shared in his book: A Whole New Mind.

In Value Proposition design, Alexander Osterwalder (and his team of co-creators) provides us with a canvas in which we can build (great) value propositions. After we get a clear introduction on the canvas and how the several building blocks are relating to each other, the book provides a great method of designing, testing and evolving the value propositions. These sections are very elaborate in methods to use when designing and testing new value propositions. Before you conduct these methods, I’d like to share the six essential 21st century skills Dan Pink wrote about, to emphasize the right-brain ‘artistic’ skills needed to come up with the best value propositions for your (new) products or services.


1. Design – Moving beyond function to engage the sense.

The best value propositions are the ones not only addressing functional jobs of the customer, but also emotional and social jobs. The design of a product or service could fulfil these jobs.


2. Story – Narrative added to products and services – not just argument.
Storytelling should be a key part of every business. Your value proposition is a central point in telling your core story. (More info: How to be a Storytelling Superhero)


3. Symphony – Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus).
Big picture thinking is a precondition for disruptive innovation. Being able to see different jobs, pains and gains that customers may care about is essential in coming up with new solutions.


4. Empathy – Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition.
Customers may experience certain emotional/social pains or gains in addressing a certain job. Creating a value proposition that can help overcome anticipated pains or help to emphasize essential gains requires empathy.


5. Play – Bringing humor and light-heartedness to business and products.
Finding a right tone of voice in messaging your value proposition, one that is positive and stimulating, is a skill to deploy in the process of value proposition design.


6. Meaning – the purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself

A message (value proposition/core story) coming from an authentic source, that is in line with the origin of the business and the future direction (business goals) of the business is much more powerful.


These six skills (all from the right hemisphere of the brain) are becoming more and more important to innovate continuously. According to Dan Pink most of the left hemisphere skills (ratio part of the brain) are going to get automated, outsourced or offshored in the near future. To be continuously competitive we need an artistic, creative view on business.

So let’s start developing our design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning skillsets.
Alexander Osterwalder has given us a tool in which we now can be creative and build irresistible value propositions using these skills, even if you’re a more left-brainy rational kind of guy (like me).