Published on

The Art of Business Value

book cover image and link to amazon

I regret delaying reading this book, assuming it wouldn't offer much insight for myself or our Software Factory team. That was a mistake! As you know from our book list, I'm a big fan of Mark Schwartz, and this short book deserves a similar high ranking to his others.

The book has a straightforward structure: it dedicates most of its pages to explaining the flaws in common perspectives on business value, then offers a better explanation in the remaining space.

Mark includes some brilliant insights along the way. He explores how an MBA can yield negative returns and distills its essential lessons into two principles:

  1. Time value of money
  2. The necessity of a sustainable competitive advantage
positive business value

He argues that bureaucracy can be beneficial as a record of business value decisions. He also challenges agile tropes, reminding us that they don't automatically create business value.

One of the most intriguing points is that business value must be discovered and developed, it can't be fully known in advance. This aligns perfectly with our approach of continuous customer engagement; they can't define the most value-maximizing features in a large upfront requirements document.


"You can't specify business value, it has to be discovered over time."

We often use the above phrase in the Software Factory when talking to customers. I'm guessing I subconsiously developed that line from the lessons in this book.

Back to the Book Shelf