Schrodinger's Benefits

Looking inside the box

Is a 'Benefit' a benefit until it's actually used in practice?


 Schrodinger cat in box

When does your Benefit become beneficial?

Those of us who watch popular science programmes will have heard of Schrodinger’s Cat as it gets rolled out whenever someone mentions ‘quantum’. The mythical beast resides in a state of life/death that cannot be resolved until its box is opened and the poor cat examined.

I was looking through a benefits register recently and it struck me that all the familiar ‘benefits’ about the time saved, processes improved and knowledge gained exist in a business version of Schrodinger’s cat-box. You can’t value them properly until you open the box, see what state they’re in and put them to some use.

You can put the cat to 101 uses (or maybe all you can do is apologise and shield your face as it leaves the box). Likewise, the typical non-cash releasing time-saving has many uses and its value depends on what you choose to do with it and for whose benefit.

Until you make that choice, what you have is an asset. It’s potentially useful and in many cases, you can make a fair estimate of its value but it’s not a benefit. Very few projects claim that their ultimate purpose is to create assets. Benefits Management should be even more rigorous in defining its purpose. If we can’t get the benefits right, why should we expect other people to do so?



Image used within copyright guidelines, with thanks to Cristineagoe at English Wikipedia / CC BY-SA (undefined)


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