Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Six Value Medals and quest for the best trail running shoes

Edward de Bono has good news and bad news.

The good news is that we can analyze the past. Fortunately information and technology are becoming commodities. In our competitive world, everyone can now be equally competent.

The bad news is that competence will not be sufficient. We have to learn to design our future. We need to develop a strong sense of values. We have to be able to make wise decisions.

The real bad news is that our perception of the world around us is unconscious. To have control over our perceptions we need to make the intangible values visible. We need a value scanning tool to see what values are driving our perceptions.   

The real good news is that the Six Value Medals provides such a value scanning tool. It's a simple value assessment framework that can be applied for all purposes. 

The Six Value Medals are:
  • GOLD MEDAL: human values, the most important values affecting people but often not noticed unless the value is negative (for example, health).
  • SILVER MEDAL: values related to the purpose of an organisation or individual, and especially values associated with money (for example, cost).
  • STEEL MEDAL: quality values, the values you get to enjoy (for example, durability).
  • GLASS MEDALS: covers creativity, innovation and simplicity - all values that arise from change (for example, a new idea or improvement with potential benefits).
  • WOOD MEDAL: environmental values, impact of our actions - these are often negative values that need to be limited or prevented (for example, local pollution or contribution to global greenhouse gas emission).
  • BRASS MEDAL: perceptual values - people react to their perceptions, not to the true world, so perception is real even when it is not reality and all people are inevitably being fooled all the time (for example, a work of art might allow us to see some aspect of our life in a stronger way, or a celebrity endorsement could make advertised benefits credible).
There is a simple scoring system for the medals, where a 'strong value' is given the number 4, 'sound value' is 3, 'weak value' is 2 and 'remote value' is 1. The same scoring system holds when the value of a medal happens to be negative, so -4 would indicate a strong negative value, and so on.  

Now I'm going to use the Six Value Medals in my quest for the best trail running shoe. My purpose is to do well at swissalpine 78K race on Saturday. I'm going to compare two new interesting trail shoe models I've been test-running lately: The North Face Rucky Chucky (NF/RC) and Salomon XT Wings (S/XTW).

Let's start with the Silver Medal. NF/RC cost me 141€ - had to mail order from Germany. S/XTW were widely available and there was a bargain for 99€ at a local store. Both seemed suitable for my racing and training purposes, except that they were too heavy for alpine running. NF/RC were slightly heavier, actually I believe they are heaviest running shoes I've ever used. I'd say S/XTW wins hands down, let's give them 4. TNF/RC gets 2 points.

Then the Steel Medal. S/XTW were more comfortable when running. NF/RC were not able to provide an equally enjoyable running experience. Downhill performance is important for me, and NF/RC are not quite what I'm looking for in this respect. I see possible blister issues during ultra trail races. They also attracted debris inside them (no, I didn't wear gaiters). Tiny rocks stuck to Tenacious Grip outsole frequently. Little design issues like these may not slow me down, but they tend to drive me crazy. Also the service quality at their local store leaves a lot of room for improvement. At this point it seems like S/XTW is going to hit the jackpot again, but not so fast: they are not very durable. The heel rubber seems to wear out quite quickly. However my main issue is with the special thin lacing system. I've bought two pairs of S/XTW, and in both cases the laces snapped suddenly during training. It's a tough call - I'll give both S/XTW and NF/RC only 1 point.

Gold & Wood Medals - I'll handle both human and environmental values together here. Both shoes are manufactured in some Far East factory - who knows exactly where and in what conditions. All I can say that I haven't heard of any issues related to these companies. The North Face has recently added quite an impressive page about their sustainability journey on their website. I found nothing at Salomon websites. I'll give NF/RC 2+3=5 and S/XTW 1+1=2 points.

Glass Medals - creativity, innovation, simplicity. NF/RC was a disappointment in this respect. I would have expected better design improvements than hot colors and 'innovative snake plate'. 1 point for them. S/XTW seems slightly better in this category. They have an impressive list of innovations, but talk is cheap. Initially the new weight distribution idea seemed interesting, but I'm not sure if it offers real benefits. In theory the new lacing system seems more convenient, but in practice it's not. Anyway they seem to be trying harder, so let's give them 2 points.

Finally comes the Brass Medal - perceptual values. Both are well-known brands with a respectable image. NF/RC has been able to get perhaps slightly bigger names to endorse their products, but that's been too vague to make any difference. Salomon has a rather lame online competition called XT Wings Challenge. This is the first summer for both of these models so it's still too early to say which will eventually be more succesful. My personal view is that S/XTW look and feel better so I give them 3 points. The hot colors and somewhat clumsy design of NF/RC is worth 2 points.

The total value scores are: S/XTW 12 points, NF/RC 11 points (the maximum value score is 24). So I'll wear Salomon XT Wings on Saturday - pimped with thick and durable traditional laces!                     

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