The value zone is the location where value is added for the customer, whether the “customer” is a member of a congregation, a client of your services, a donor, or a customer. The best innovation happens closest to the value zone, through those most attuned to the work of your organization, yet often those with the greatest influence and information are the most distant from the value zone. Those closest to the value zone often lack the strategic framework necessary to evaluate and implement value zone innovation. As a result innovation doesn’t happen together, it’s rarely dynamic and often is too late.

Value zone innovation is often small ideas with larger than expected results. Take for example Southwest Airlines. Given the framework, vision and values small changes can make a lasting impact. A flight attendant notices most people simply take their olives off their salad. They suggest eliminating olives, saving Southwest Airlines over $40,000 per year. A church staff member notices that many members come in late, the congregation is standing, it looks full and uninviting. A simple solution, invite the congregation to sit early in worship so that a first-time worshipper can experience a welcoming space.

Sometimes innovations are major undertakings, but sometimes innovations are simple solutions discovered in the value zone.

These innovations easily die in the wrong culture, a culture that doesn’t equip or empower, a culture without a strategic framework to understand what’s valuable.

Strategic framing unleashes the power of innovating together. It gives those in the value zone the tools, the lenses, and the language to discover simple innovations, the power to implement or the opportunity to share. Innovating together is what makes for dynamic and thriving organizations.