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The Amazing Value Triangle

Now, this is a classic.

The value triangle is dead simple, but it’s a sobering reality check for when discussing deliverables and scopes of work in general.

The model as such comes in many different versions and I don’t know who created the original, but it’s a powerful model in all it’s simplicity.

Basically, people always want things to be competitive, and they want it fast. And of course, they want it cheap.

Now, thats not how a market economy works…

Here’s how the value triangle works:

If you want something done CHEAP and FAST, you can’t ask for it to be COMPETITIVE.

If you want something done CHEAP and COMPETITIVE, you can’t ask for it to be done FAST.

If you want something done FAST and COMPETITIVE, you can’t ask for it to be done CHEAP.

Brilliant, right?

I know all of you project managers out there agrees!

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As the author of Doctor Spin, Jerry's passionate about PR and strategic communications. He runs the agency Spin Factory and hosts online courses at Spin Academy. Jerry lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife Lisah, television news anchor and journalist, and their two-year-old son, Jack. Click here to subscribe to Jerry's posts!

3 comments

  1. Edit: I should say that you can ASK for all three, but someone’s going to loose, creating a win-loose relationship.

  2. Paola says:

    The triangle seems infallible long term, but not so at short term. Recent graduates, and others, can be fast, competitive and cheap. For them taking a low salary is a matter of limited experience or ignoring the market value of their talents and skills. However, employees that deliver a fast, competitive and cheap job tend to leave quickly. Employees with long term personal goals, or non-for-profit goals, may deliver a fast and competitively job at low cost. In more restrictive societies and cultures fast, competitive and cheap employees may stay a bit longer. Sometimes people from such cultures move to more progressive societies. Until they realize their freedom they leave.

    1. Great point, Paola. I too see that pattern. Some junior staff can perform way above their pay grade, but one way or another, that stage often passes quickly, one way or the other.

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