Beyond Numbers: Rethinking Valuations through the Lens of Social Value

Beyond Numbers: Rethinking Valuations through the Lens of Social Value

Posted 22nd November 2023

In a world often driven by numerical metrics and quantifiable assessments, the Valuation Presentation led by Adrian Ashton stands out as a beacon of thought-provoking insight.

Adrian’s introductory remarks challenged the audience to reconsider the prevalent “…fetish about valuation.” While acknowledging the importance of valuations, he emphasised that their value lies not in isolation but when approached through the prism of the Principles of Social Value. “We manage what we measure,” he stressed, urging us to be mindful that measuring the wrong things leads to managing the wrong things.

The debate ignited by Adrian’s words was like kindling to a fire; the audience eagerly shared their diverse thoughts and perspectives. It became evident that valuations are intricate, multifaceted, and profoundly contextual. To illustrate this complexity, Adrian shared compelling narratives.

One story revolved around a broken roof in his son’s room. When confronted with the task of fixing it, Adrian’s valuation wasn’t merely monetary; it was about safeguarding his son’s safety and comfort. This personal valuation far exceeded the builder’s charges, highlighting the subjective nature of valuations when tied to personal stakes.

Another example was Adrian’s own “beer index,” showcasing how different regions value the same product differently. It showed how valuations fluctuate due to numerous factors like location, preferences, and individual perceptions of worth.

The subsequent panel discussion further enriched the dialogue. HACT’s approach, as explained by another panellist, emphasised simplicity and robustness. However, they emphasized that valuations aren’t the starting point; understanding what to measure is. This journey involves recognising that social value isn’t solely about valuation but about grasping the underlying purpose.

Charlotte Ostermann of SVUK echoed the sentiment, highlighting the importance of starting with stakeholders and the “why.” Another attendee reinforced the notion that valuation represents the final piece in a more comprehensive process.

As the discussion continued, a quote from Tim Goodspeed’s training surfaced, emphasizing the importance of ‘why,’ ‘audience,’ and ‘decisions influenced.’ This aptly summarised the essence of the discussion, encapsulating the ‘RIGHT Approach’.

Loop’s approach, aligning with Greenbook guidance, extends beyond traditional cost-benefit analysis to consider wellbeing.

In conclusion, Adrian’s Valuation Presentation pushed us to reconsider how we evaluate worth. It served as a catalyst for a deeper understanding that valuations, when intertwined with social value principles, unlock a world beyond numbers, enriching our decision-making and understanding of true worth.

Charlotte Ostermann

Private Sector Lead, Social Value UK

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