Foreign Currency

How many types of currency are in your wallet at the moment? One? None?! I have three, because I’m travelling, and will likely have four a few days from now. I’m constantly doing price conversions in my head and wondering which currency is listed on menus and price tags.

Currency is how we express value.

What currencies are most highly valued in your work? In traditional for-profit businesses, the answer is usually money — maybe revenue or profitability or growth rates. Increasingly, you may also be adding social or planetary benefits to that equation.

If you work in a not-for-profit space, the answer may be a bit trickier. If you provide emergency relief at a shelter or food cupboard, is your driving currency “more people served” or “fewer people served?” Or perhaps “different people served over time?” Or are your measures more qualitative such as “the dignity with which people are served?”

In local government, the list looks different again. There, the primary currency might be “value for tax dollar” or “resident satisfaction” or “quality of life in our city.”

This idea gets more complex when you add layers of scale. What is valued by you or by an individual client or colleague (job satisfaction?) might be different than what drives their boss (reputation?) or team (project completed on time?) or organization (impact?). In that case you may find yourself doing some “currency conversion” too, especially if those currencies are not explicit or well-aligned.

It’s really important to define what a win looks like. And the first step towards doing so is knowing which currency is most readily accepted at the place of business you’re in.

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