I tidied up my office yesterday, a process which largely involves a) discarding bits and pieces of early 3D printing experiments, b) discarding bits and pieces of board game prototypes, and c) filing or discarding papers that have clearly passed the threshold of "every day use" and must now be relegated to either recycling, filing cabinet, or three-ring binder. During that third stage I found what might be the most important business document ever: a worksheet my older daughter, MD, completed at school in first grade.
The scan's a bit hard to read, so here's question #3: Alena wants to buy a sticker for 45 cents. She hands the cashier 1 quarter, 1 dime, and 2 nickels. Did Alena give the cashier enough money for the sticker?
The answer, of course, is yes. The sticker costs 45 cents (holy inflation!) and Alena hands the cashier 45 cents. MD dutifully shows her work (25 + 10 + 10 = 45) and says, "Yes."
But that's not all. In the margin she adds, "but not with tax though." And there you have the two simple keys to defining and identifying added value. Information beyond the simple correct answer was provided, and that information was of vital, practical importance to the end user.
The smiley face and "I love it!" is from her teacher. That's the added value litmus test: the end user recognizes that the information provided went above and beyond the minimum correct answer AND provided insight that could help avert a negative situation or facilitate a greater success.
I showed this to my team members seven years ago and it's occupied various spots in my office ever since. Though there's a pretty good size file of paper memories for her in my closet, I think this one's going back up on the office wall for another few years.