Bob Kalk is Lead Trustee for the Aevia Charitable Trust (The ACT). He has primary responsibility for building infrastructure for Ascension University and Ascension Cafe. His extensive experience in ferreting out the Unique Value Proposition (UVP) for various organizations and projects has been used extensively to inform the development effort for this educational ministry.
In 1986, as a representative of the Zenith Computer Group, Kalk became peripherally involved in the accident investigation following the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. As he observed the cataloging of material recovered from the underwater debris field, a process involving the extensive use of Zenith equipment, he thought to himself “We can do better than this.”
Shortly thereafter, Kalk made a presentation to the Executive Committee of Zenith Electronics Corporation which, at that time, was the only manufacturer for a trio of complementary technologies that undergird the interactive media experience we now enjoy. This computer, television, and networking hardware manufacturer was uniquely suited to serve the demands of an emerging market segment. Kalk’s presentation, which was attended by the parent company’s Chairman together with the Presidents of each Zenith subsidiary company, was intended as a value proposition. It clearly demonstrated how Zenith could leverage its unique position and product complement to make computer based media assets available, over a wide area, on demand.
The initial presentation was soon followed by Kalk’s installation as Director for a new product development group called Zenith Image Systems which sold its value added products through the computer group’s Federal Systems Division on the GSA Schedule and through seventy North American retail stores.
Zenith Image Systems products were used during the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). And, because that telescope was the most thoroughly documented satellite ever deployed up to that time, NASA’s Zenith built Photo Image Management System was instrumental during the planning and execution of the First Servicing Mission which corrected the telescope’s vision. NASA also used the system in support of the Gamma Ray Observatory (GRO) and the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS). The Department of Defense used a similar Zenith built system to catalog dental records and aid in identification of the remains of soldiers once classified as missing in action during the Vietnam war.
Shortly after Zenith Electronics was purchased by Samsung, Kalk became an independent consultant. His first client was the Goddard Space Flight Center where he provided Control Center support during the in-orbit installation of the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (COSTAR), the instrument designed to correct the Hubble Space Telescope’s spherical aberration, and built by Ball Aerospace Corporation.
Kalk later consulted with the Media Affairs and Broadcast Division of NASA Headquarters and he was tasked with conducting an agency wide needs analysis to assess the scope of the agency’s image management problem. His report profiled the systems then in use, from satellite imagery to parts inventory related images. It included a set of recommendations that informed the agency’s strategy for getting a handle on its vast collection of images.
Kalk was later retained by LumenX, another subsidiary of Ball, to evaluate commercial offerings and make recommendations with respect to its machine vision requirements. He developed the UVP for ST³, a Chattanooga based startup which provided video streaming services, to a variety of large business concerns, five years before YouTube was founded. He later developed the UVP for a new company launched by the founder of the Home Shopping Network, the new venture was the media streaming / product purveying forerunner that inspired the kind of omni-channel initiatives we see today.
Kalk served as a business consultant and resource manager at Dubai Internet City. He directed operations for a communications center with a staff of over fifty while also developing the UVP for a business process outsourcing park designed for rapid scaleability. Its clients included Emirates Airlines, Oman Telephone, Deutsche Bank, and Sears.
Kalk has at times engaged in feature writing and those articles he authored have appeared in regional newspapers, magazines, and weblogs. His features have usually focused upon the key differentiators that make his subjects unique in a world of competing ideas and enterprises. His interviewing technique naturally zeroes in on those discrete information elements that must be brought into focus within a value proposition.
His business card features a diagram of an apochromatic (color correcting) lens. He uses it, as a visual aid, for explaining his time-tested process to prospective clients. “Excuse me for mixing metaphors.” He says. “But just as an airplane pilot must lose altitude and speed, with a certain degree of precision, to place his wheels on the runway’s numbers during landing, our task will be to bring your offerings into precise focus in the mind of a potential client.”
“In the diagram we begin with a whole lot of questions. We distill the answers to produce, what we can agree upon, as the primary elements of your story. These are represented by primary colors, the red, green, and blue lines. As with any parabolic analogy, the first lens becomes the directing arc. The color correction that occurs within the lens cluster represents our effort to calibrate the language used. We choose our words carefully so that they will be readily understood by your intended audience on the target demo line. The UVP is presented where the red, green, blue, and dotted lines converge.” Kalk says.
“Now you may be asking “Why do the lines continue on past the point of convergence?” The short answer is that the discrete elements of your service offering, or what we continue to regard as the distinguishing features of the product you provide, will ordinarily continue beyond the focal point. But they will continue with the quality of coherence because they are now informed and conditioned by your unique value proposition.”
Kalk continues. “Sooo, to simplify the analogy, you are scattering seed. It may represent the Gospel of Jesus, or it may be your business proposal. In either case, you don’t want to waste the effort or the seed. The soil must be of the right type and ready to receive it.” He said.
“A parable is technically a parabolic analogy. The parabola may be formed by the shape of your outer ear, the lens of your eye, or the architectural design of your auditorium. All of these examples are, like the curve of a satellite dish, intended to bring information into precise focus at some pre-determined point.”
“When we have the most important information properly arrayed along our directing arc, it can then be brought into precise focus and striking relief, with exquisite detail, at the focal point. That is your parable. It is the story you want told.