A short reminder today prompted by a @NAISNetwork question via Twitter: Are there any school assets that simply cannot be assigned a value? Several responses suggest that as soon as we use the word “value” people default to assigning a closely associated dollar amount. That is understandable…and wrong.
In all of my work with school teams I emphasize a definition of value proposition that is perfect for schools, public or private: Value is the difference between what you say you are going to do and what you actually do, as seen through the eyes of your customer. So, back to the question posed by @NAISNetwork:
The answer is emphatically no. Everything we do at school has some “value”, either positive or negative. It is up to us to determine that value, and frankly, schools have not done a good job at making that determination in the past, often because we tend to think of dollar terms for value, and not customer perceptions.
In many of my workshops, I have asked teams to look at all that the school does and identify core values that are so fundamental to what they do that no competitor can generate greater value, even at a much lower cost. Hundreds of educators have participated in this activity in the last year, and the results are almost always the same. The core value that a school generates, regardless of cost, are: teacher/student and student/student relationships, traditions, personal social interaction, and certain elements of what we refer to as character education. So, if we say this is what we “do best”, we have to really come through on this for our customers, every day.
This is where our indomitable value lies, yet these indicators don’t show up on a budget, income statement, or balance sheet. As I laid out in my recent article in Independent School Magazine, school communities need to re-tool this discussion or risk completely missing the point of the value discussion. It is a simple question that needs a LOT more focus: what does each person in your school do each day to contribute value?