The Values Chain: An inquiry into how we create and capture value when we innovate


A note to my readers: a few weeks back, I was asked to give some remarks at a private meeting of venture capitalists and technology pioneers on the future of wellness, nutrition, agriculture, biotechnology and innovation. I decided to focus on the capture of value, and tell this story of a Values Chain that I see replacing the Value Chain. You may agree, you might disagree. But this is how I have been looking at it.

Here’s my hypothesis: If we hope to gain the full return from innovation, today,  we have to create a values chain, not just a value chain. Let’s explore value capture in a modern context, shall we?

If you have enjoyed, say, a $15 whisky cocktail at a popular urban bar or restaurant, you’ll know that there’s lots of value being created via our friend, the cocktail.

There’s value for the artistry of the cocktail’s creation, value for the supply chain optimization and efficiency in whisky production, and value for the innovation in corn grain from which the whisky is made. Though we pay upon completion and for the sensation, many organizations are there to divide the spoils.

More or less, there’s 4 cents for the grain technology, 96 cents for the whisky technology and $14.00 for artistry of the servers, and the promotion.

More technological innovation, by far, is in the grains. Though the art of designing and serving cocktails advance; though the beverage industry optimizes its manufacturing and supply-chain, by far the most innovation and risk is in the design and breeding of the corn..

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