The Five Million Pounds Iphone – Everybody Overvalues Something

This week’s headlines are filled with news from The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. They refer to latest technological advances such as quad-core processors, large HD screens, or NFS, among many others.
In constrast to this focus on ever growing speed, and ever new functionalities, Arne van Oosterom challenges the notion of ‘owning a phone’ in his blog post on “Value Co-Creation” today. The design thinking perspective offers a challenging frame for many organizations that struggle with unlearning basic assumptions about customers’ values. Arne’s post prompted one of the many inspiring little chats in my timeline among some of my much appreciated twitter pals about the meaning of value.

The absurdity of material cults around mobile phones nicely shows in developments such as the vertu – more „ a concierge service than a phone“, as Symant Sandhir (@syamant) pointed out, topped by another folly: a diamond-studded iphone 4 priced at Five Million British Pounds (via @Graham Hill)

This chat reminded me of a story recently told by my dear colleague Rudolf Dörfler (Hernstein Institut, Vienna) in one of our leadership seminars:

The Million-Dollar Parrot” by William Ury

A man is walking down the street. He sees a beautiful parrot in the window of a pet store. He goes inside and asks how much the parrot costs; the owner says „A Million Dollars“. „A million dollars!“ „Yeah! It’s a free country; I can ask what I want for it. Look how beautiful this parrot is. It’s worth every penny.

Marvellous Mollucan Tango

Weeks pass, and the parrot remains in the window. The man stops in regularly and asks whether the owner has come to his senses regarding price. The answer remains the same: a million dollars or no deal.

One day the man sees the parrot is gone from the window, so he goes in and asks the owner, „Did you sell that parrot?“


„How much did you get for it?“

„A million dollars.“

„Someone really paid a million dollars!?!“

„Well, yes. Actually I got two chickens wort five hundred thousands dollars each.“


Now, it’s your turn: What do you overvalue?

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