If you’ve ever picked up a book on business – how to start a business, how to run a business, how to save a business – you typically don’t have to page too far before you run into a popular term: “value proposition.”
“What is the value proposition of this firm?” is a question my business school classmates and I frequently asked ourselves while reviewing Harvard Business case studies about real and fictional companies and then trying to apply the strategy or marketing principles we’d been learning in class to the examples being presented.
A value proposition as defined is “an innovation, service, or feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers.” Wikipedia helpfully expands that to “a promise of value to be delivered, communicated, and acknowledged. It is also a belief from the customer about how value will be delivered, experienced, and acquired.”
I like the expanded definition because it defines the expectations not just of the party delivering the product or service, but also those of the recipient. A successful value proposition is one that addresses both sides of the relationship.
This topic is much on my mind these days.
The impact of COVID-19 has impacted each of us in its own way, as well as our industry and AAPG and our sister societies. We’re all struggling to adjust to this new reality, to understand what this pandemic will do long-term to our way of life, and to position ourselves to be healthy and productive.
As Rick indicated at the beginning of this issue, the AAPG Executive Committee and our global staff are assessing and responding to these changes for AAPG and for you, our members.
The pandemic is causing us to reassess AAPG’s value proposition for our members and our customers. We must consider that what has worked in the past may not work in the future and that our members’ and the industry’s needs are experiencing fundamental change.
“We are having to rethink our business from top to bottom,” is how one global exploration executive put it to me recently. AAPG is doing the same thing.
One of the challenges we face is that when you consider AAPG’s value proposition, you find that we offer many different value propositions to our members, based on their interests and inclinations. Our membership is not a monolith; it’s made up of many smaller groups with shared interests.
Many members are interested in science – that’s one of the principal reasons AAPG was formed, of course – either sharing their science findings or learning what is happening at the edge of discovery, being a part of advancing our science.
Others are interested in business and how we use science to find and develop a commodity that plays a vital role in the global energy mix. They’re the folks interested in deals, eager to hear about technological advances they can put to use in the field, and enthralled by stories of exploration successes.
Relationships are formed when discussing science and deals, sometimes they blossom into collaborative partnerships. Friendships are formed and community grows when people gather together.
Some members of the community recognize a good thing when they see it, and step forward, choosing to dedicate part of their free time to help guide and shape the future direction of the Association.
Different Values for Different Generations
Different generations have different expectations of their involvement in AAPG.
Baby Boomers followed in the footsteps the Greatest Generation, believing that being a professional meant belonging to one or more professional organizations. They may also be involved in church or civic activities, but AAPG is their professional home.
I’d say for those of us in Generation X that sentiment still existed, but to a lesser extent. I valued the science shared through AAPG and how it could assist me in building my career. Before Google you needed a reference library, or access to one, and AAPG’s products and services, from conferences to publications, were a crucial way that I engaged and became part of the profession.
Today, our Millennial and Gen-Z members have many other options for connecting with each other and for communicating their contributions to our science. Make no mistake, they want to be successful. But they define success in a manner that integrates all aspects of their lives – how they spend their time, energy and money – according to their values.
I’m painting with a broad brush here. But what I hope you take away is that AAPG’s membership is highly varied.
When I talk to members about AAPG’s value proposition, I’ll often get responses like “AAPG is all about science!” or it “is all about professionalism!” or it “is all about ethics!” AAPG is all of these things and more, but these answers are a trap when they stifle creative thinking about what AAPG could and should be in the future.
Active member participation is a hallmark of AAPG. And as we rethink and reengineer AAPG’s value proposition in coming months, I’d invite you to engage with us in this discussion.