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Value, simply put, is something that a customer is willing to trade for. The trade is most commonly done with cash, meaning that a customer is willing to pay for it. Not all things that are valued are paid for, though. Consider the numerous free downloads on this site. Customers who value the information don’t pay, but rather register on the site or subscribe. They trade permission to contact them for the value they find in the content. Facebook customers trade the easy access to friends’ information they value for permission to data-mine and advertise.

Discussions about value often mention ‘form, fit, or function.’ That simply means that for a product or service to add value in the eyes of a customer, it must change something. The definition is primarily applicable in the manufacture of products.

Be on the lookout for false value. These are the things that sound good on paper that a customer says he or she likes, but keeps the wallet neatly tucked away when it is time to buy. 

One final note: The concept of value us used far too seldom in Lean. Your team should be making relentless efforts to both identify what a customer values today, and what your team can do to meet those requirements.

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