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Make or take value

All policies and services make or take value. Those that make value, create something new and useful from the resources that that they are made from. Those that take value, just move or remove resources. Neither approach is wrong, but if your intent is driven by public purpose then you should be confident that the policy or service is making value. There are some clear cases where services take value like hedge funds that bet on small increases or decreases in share prices. But there are other services where value is less clear like asking a teacher to spend part of their time reporting the performance of their students instead of teaching them. In these cases, being able to clearly articulate value to all participants in the system will help you win support for you service or policy.

When to do it

Perform this check after you have produced the initial designs for you service or policy in the chapter: generate ideas to test.

How to do it

You should:

  • List the resources that are used in your service or policy (e.g. people, money, data, buildings, equipment, other assets)

  • Organise the resources to make a value sum (e.g. resource + resource = value)

  • Take the values that you have identified and check who is getting the value

  • Consider whether your service or policy is making or taking value.

Try this activity

This activity will help you to check what type of value that your policy or service produces and who gets it.

Time, space and materials

  • 20 minutes

  • any space with a wall, sticky notes, and pens for a face-to-face event 

  • or for a remote event use a video conference and online whiteboard that will take the place of the wall and enable participants to add and move online ‘sticky notes’

People to include

•    your team
•    any number of people
•    a facilitator to give the instruction


The purpose of the activity is to check who gets value from your work.

  1. Everyone should list the resources that are used in the policy or service. These might be things like people, money, data, buildings, or equipment. Write one resource per note. You have 2 minutes.

  2. Stick your notes to the wall and remove any duplicates. You have 1 minute.

  3. Now work in pairs to make value sums that look like ‘resource + resource = value’. Use the resources that you have identified and write new notes to show the value that is produced. You can construct one or more sums. You have 5 minutes.

  4. In turns, each pair should stick their sum to the wall and tell everyone else about their sum. You have 1 minute per sum.

  5. Discuss whether the values that have been identify make something new and useful from the resources or whether they just take value by just moving or removing the resources.

  6. Now take the values that you have identified and reorganise them into 2 columns: ‘users’ and ‘you’. Place the value in the column of the person that gets the value. You have 2 minutes.

  7. Within each column, order the values from those that ‘make value’ the most (at the top) to those that ‘take value’ the most (at the bottom). You have 2 minutes.

  8. Discuss:

    • the split in who receives value

    • the need to rebalance who gets value

    • will users clearly see the value


  • Once you have ordered the values from ‘makes the most value’ to ‘takes the most value’, you could try to add a zero (‘0’) at a point in the order to show clearly which type of values are being produced

Next steps

  • Use this analysis to help refine and iterate the initial designs for your policy or service.

Further reading

Find out more about this topic by searching the internet for:

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