Nuisance Value: Value Creation or Value Destruction?


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Nuisance Value: value, importance, or usefulness arising from a capacity to annoy, frustrate, harass, or injure  … Merriam-Webster dictionary

I’m sure that you are all familiar with how pearls are formed.  An irritant, (could be a grain of sand), works its way inside the oyster and begins to irritate the soft inside, similar to us having a splinter.  The oyster, in order to protect itself, begins to form layers around the irritant, out of the same material as its shell.  The oyster keeps adding layers and layers and the result is often a beautiful, perfectly formed pearl.

Perhaps we should take a lesson from the simple oyster.  Sometimes we are plagued with irritants from the outside (inside too).  Somehow these things work their way into our psyche and they begin to annoy us and bother us.  It may be the tiniest thing, something that others may not even notice, but for us, boy, are they irritating.  We may think that we are able to ignore them and they will ‘go away’ but most of the times they remain, and sometimes even begin to grow and grow until they can be ignored no longer. (Irritants and Pearls from andie33 in Meandering thru Life, November 15, 2010)

Maybe we should just deal with them the way that an oyster does.  It takes work to turn an irritant into a beautiful pearl, but once the pearl is formed, the oyster can live with it inside its shell.   We need to turn those sharp, piercing annoyances into something smooth and round and certainly something that we can then live with in peace.  Sometimes we cannot rid ourselves of the problem.  Sometimes we have to face it, work with it and transform it.  And then, the product is something that we can be proud of.  The oyster is different after the pearl is formed, and so are we.  It doesn’t happen overnight, it is a process, but one that yields a beautiful result.

Sunanda Ghosh, who is VP of Sales at Sage, my Publisher said in a Sage meeting with me that she wasn’t really part of the meeting, and wondered why she was there. ‘Nuisance Value’ that’s why I’m here.

This got me thinking. Was nuisance value bad or good? Does it create value or not. Sunanda always had a view point, and mostly she had good ideas in her view point. She was enthusiastic, and it showed in her point of view. She clearly was creating value.

I have two clients in the agri input field. Both giants. One of the companies’ executives insisted they could not do anything new because it was the selling season. The other one wanted the engagement because it was the selling season and what they learnt about creating value would help them sell more.

You might have a customer who is a nuisance value, but he can help you develop a pearl of a service.

When I look at nuisance value, I think of the Aam Aaadmi Party (AAP), the Indian phenomenon which could blossom or fizzle out. AAP came to power in Delhi because of the nuisance value they created for the incumbent government. The AAP destroyed value for the incumbent and got elected itself by promising creation of value for the ordinary citizen. For the Voter, this nuisance held out the chance of true Value Creation. So AAP was voted in much to the surprise of all political pundits, and market researchers.

But after they came into power, they continued their nuisance value ways, and continued agitation, in spite of being the governing party. This nuisance value is veering towards value destruction in the worst possible way. The citizen is not getting the government’s attention (its attention is on agitation). Transport is being curtailed (a value destroyer for working people). 3-4000 police people are being deployed to safeguard the agitators. True nuisance value and value destruction.

“Interesting philosophy,” Richard Rorty writes in Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, ” is rarely an examination of the pros and cons of a thesis. Usually it is, implicitly or explicitly, a contest between an entrenched vocabulary which has become a nuisance and a half-formed new vocabulary which vaguely promises great things…it [the half-formed new vocabulary] says things like, ‘try thinking of it this way’— or more specifically, ‘try to ignore the apparently futile traditional philosophical questions by substituting the following new and possibly interesting questions.’”

Nuisance Value is good as long as it leads to Value Creation. Let it not become a value destroyer.

Your comments are welcome.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Gautam Mahajan
Gautam Mahajan, President of Customer Value Foundation is the leading global leader in Customer Value Management. Mr Mahajan worked for a Fortune 50 company in the USA for 17 years and had hand-on experience in consulting, training of leaders, professionals, managers and CEOs from numerous MNCs and local conglomerates like Tata, Birla and Godrej groups. He is also the author of widely acclaimed books "Customer Value Investment: Formula for Sustained Business Success" and "Total Customer Value Management: Transforming Business Thinking." He is Founder Editor of the Journal of Creating Value ( and runs the global conference on Creating Value (


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