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What’s it worth?

Alan Smith

Fancy creating a bit more value in your business, then put it through the shredder!

This weekend the iconic Bristolian artist Banksy has played what could be one of the most impudent acts in art by organizing for one of his famous works to self-destruct after being sold at auction for just over £1m (watch video here).

Girl With Balloon was the final item (and one of my favorites) in a sale at Sotheby’s in London on Friday night and its auction price matched the artist’s earlier sale record of £1.04m.

Just after the auctioneer’s hammer came down on the item, the canvas began to pass through a shredder installed in the frame.

Banksy posted an image on Instagram of the shredded work hanging from the foot of the frame with the title “Going, going, gone … ”

Audacious certainly, clever, not half. This morning on Radio 4’s today program an eminent scientist was trying to figure out how Banksy had arranged for this to happen in a picture that had been painted I believe back in 2006. I know we are all used to watching Mission Impossible movies but making this transpire was incredibly difficult to do. It also required an arrogance about value that we can all learn something from.

Recognizing the difference between cost and value can greatly increase profitability: the cost of your product or service is the amount you spend to produce it. The price is your financial reward for providing the product or service and it’s the value is what your customer believes the product or service is worth to them.

Value is the usefulness or desirability of good or service, how much you love it, or what it is “worth to me.” Value is not simply a number, although we can often compare the values of two things, especially if they are similar in use. Instinctively we see value as being intrinsic and stable over time, but scrutiny shows it must be somewhat dependent on individual preferences and social context as evidenced by the Banksy incident.

Observers suggest that the value of the shredded Banksy will be significantly higher than in its whole state. Not that I suspect Banksy cares. That’s the beauty of being an artist.

It does make me think though more creatively about how we all value what we do and create. The artist in all of us should look at the value, rather like beauty, to the beholder.

For those of us in businesses that are under pressure to deliver on a cost-based model, maybe we should try to switch our thinking to be more based on value that we add to our clients or customers.

We just might see things, like all good artists do, quite differently.

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