A lot of people in this line of work talk about “creating social change,” or “working for change.” I don’t think that’s what we’re doing.
What I think UnSectored does, and what all of our partners do, is create value. Whether or not we create “social value” or just plain “value” is another conversation, but the distinction between “change” and “value” is an important one. Change implies starting from one point and going to another. Value grows out of a single point in time and can be sustained for as long as it has benefits. Because “creating change” will always alter the norm, most likely someone will not be happy with the new norm that comes from this process of creation. Maybe the hypothetical change agent doesn’t care what that dissatisfied person thinks about the new norm, but to have a truly sustainable and collaborative society, we all have to be happy with what we’ve got.
“Creating change,” to me, implies a zero-sum game. By redirecting resources from one area to another, one group is better off, leaving another worse of. Value creation is removed from a zero-sum world by taking existing resources and making them more beneficial than they were. This will certainly cause a change in a system, and it could redistribute resources, but these are not the purpose of value creation. Its purview is simply to make society better off. The benefits might go to one group more than another, but it leaves no one worse off.
This is a pretty esoteric distinction, I know. Really, it’s all semantics, and one person’s change can be another person’s value. But, the way we think and talk about things is important. Change is linear and focused on a specific individual or group. Value isn’t time-bound and implies benefits accruing beyond the scope of the project. Value is collaborative where change creation is inherently isolationist.
Based on what I’m seeing in the world today, value is being created everywhere. Most people I know aren’t actually concerned with creating change, but extracting the most value out of the resources we have. What do you think? Is value a better term, or should I stop writing these pedantic posts?
Photo credit: cobalt123
Value creation's purview is simply to make society better off.