Show the Value of What You Do: Measuring and Achieving Success in Any Endeavor by Patricia Pulliam Phillips and Jack J. Phillips (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. 2022, 160 p).
In an era of evidence-based inquiry, people need to be able to demonstrate the value of their projects credibly. But how do you do that when there isn’t an obvious measure connected to the project, like increased sales? In their new book Patti and Jack Phillips, the cofounders of ROI Institute, show how you can adopt the same methodology used by more than 6,000 organizations in seventy countries to evaluate large institutional initiatives. By following their six-step process, you can build a case for any project, process, or intervention, even so-called soft programs. For example, the first case study in the book involves successfully demonstrating the effectiveness of chaplaincy in an intensive care unit.
The authors explain how to link your project to a meaningful business outcome, make sure your project will actually influence that outcome, identify metrics that will show if you’re making progress, collect and analyze data, and use the results to build support. This book includes extensive examples from a wide range of organizations: businesses, nonprofits, schools, law enforcement, and more. It provides diagnostic tools and supportive practices and even offers advice on how to find a positive interpretation for results that don’t conform to your anticipated outcome. Answering the question “Is it worth it?” defines the ultimate value of any project. Using the methodology this book presents will keep your work relevant, your career on track, and your organization healthy.
Everyone should measure and show the value of every project or business endeavor. Philips et al. wrote this book with the key idea that showing the value of a project is a logical, easy, and an imperative process. The risk of an obscure value includes the loss of support, outright failure, chasing the wrong goals, or missing the point altogether. The authors show how five levels of success build on each, from indispensable steppingstones to the highest level of success, which mirrors Bloom’s Taxonomy. There are also no shortcuts along the six-step Show the Value process, which is simple and intuitive, but not necessarily easy. The process is linear and focuses on discrete projects.
The authors explain the importance of collecting and analyzing the right data based on a measure of success. There is a need for both hard and soft data. These measures only highlight what matters to success—converting intangibles and soft data to monetary impact. People must score their projects by using fully loaded, conservative, believable, money quantities only. The bottom line is the only thing that is convincing and universally understood. This fully loaded concept requires accounting for everything that goes in and everything that goes out. If one is going to spend time, money, blood, sweat, or tears, it is essential to count the cost, know what success means, and what the true result is. In the end, it is imperative to show the value of key contributors and decision makers.
It is possible and essential to treat each project as an investment and not just a cost. Do not assume that higher management or other stakeholders understand. Show the value—even if nobody is asking yet. My initial impression was uncertainty over whether this slim book could be a stand-alone primer or just the teaser opening chapter of a bigger volume—it turned out to be both. This book does not have everything there is to know about the return-on-investment, but it includes everything a person needs to know to make the Show the Value process work at once.
Military leader will find value in this book because it will help solve the perennial cycles of promising ideas, initiatives, change for changes’ sake, and meandering strategies. Leaders should work backwards from the desired end state, deliberately, while measuring progress and success convincingly. There will be no ambiguity. The project either returns value on its investment or it does not.
This book is more than worth the time (not much) and money (not much) it took to read it—but this is not a light summer read. This book is going to make any serious reader look at their own business (whatever size, type, or level) and just know there’s room to improve. Go back to the book for reference on every project. Read it, keep it, and share it with your team.