Posts Tagged ‘change’

Being Expert: Bringing Personal Value to Those Around You

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

I’ve written recently about how our economy is fundamentally changing. Everything seems to be disrupted and in a state of chaos. Normally routine business and established practices no longer function as they used to. Entire industries are being transformed along with the people in them. This brings me to the subject of today’s post, being an expert in your space and how you bring value to those around you.

In the past, our value was defined by how much we knew combined with the experience we accumulated over time. If you are truly an expert, every hour of everyday brings new experience and personal growth.

Those that find themselves in trouble today are the ones who learned their primary skill set a long time ago and have resisted learning more. They simply took what they were trained in and used it over and over, in a static kind of way. They would become more proficient at their daily performance and execution, much in the same way a golfer gets better at their swing if they practice the same swing over and over a thousand times. This is call “grooving.” Once you’re in a groove it is very difficult to get out of it. Grooving works very well when the skill does not require change to remain valuable.

In the knowledge or professional arena, our value was defined by how much knowledge we had and how specialized that knowledge was. If it was difficult material that took a long time to master, all the better. This meant we could charge more for our understanding of this knowledge. Think doctors, lawyers, and CPA’s. You could also think of master craftsmen as well.

This is the way we used to position ourselves and bring value, have knowledge that is hard to find, access, duplicate, and master.

Things are different now. With the rate at which technology, markets, and economies are changing, simply having the knowledge or experience is no longer enough. To remain an “expert” you must remain relevant to those you serve. To maintain your position of authority and value requires another skill set few truly master. It begins with the ability to be observational and recognize which elements of change are at work.

Simply observing isn’t the answer. The true answer is the ability to draw upon your knowledge and experience to synthesize new opportunities and solutions. This is an amazing time to be alive. There is so much disruptive change and technology around us.

The current recession and underlying permanent unemployment are perfect examples. The economies that are recovering quickly are the ones with low cost labor that can do many of the things our own skilled blue collar labor used to do. Now even our white collar workers are being outsourced by low cost offshore labor.

With rapid, pervasive change everywhere, we all have the opportunity to re-invent and redefine our value and skills. Our individual expertise comes from the ability to respond to these disruptive changes with innovative solutions that bring value to our customers and clients. As uncomfortable as change is, this is an amazing time of opportunity for those that can recognized and innovate new solutions.

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On Managing Internal Change

Friday, May 28th, 2010

I was having coffee with a couple of friends this morning and one of them said, “you know, you introduced me to a term a couple of years ago and I find myself using it all the time.” That term was “legacy baggage.” It was specifically meant to describe all the internal issues and excuses used by employees and people within an organization to resist change. Here are several examples”

    Not Invented Here
    We’ve Never Done it That Way Before
    We Tried That Once
    It Will Never Work
    That May Work in Other Places, But Not Here
    Our Business is Different

This is only the beginning of the the hundreds of excuses and obstacles thrown up to keep from implementing change. Our post today is about the root resistance to change.

In my experience with dozens of companies around the world, resistance to chance has it’s root in the learning culture of the individual or company. The old school industrial model taught the use of skills that would be used over and over again for decades. It did not recognize nor reward the continued improvement or continuing education of the employee. For professional practices, this is not the case. May certifications or license professions require ongoing education to keep the license current. The trades generally do not.

Most factory workers have a limited education. The dominant attitude is that they’ve done their time in school and they’re finished with that part of their lives. This is such a huge mistake and in direct conflict with what drives our world of commerce today.

We live in a world of constant change. If you aren’t positioning yourself or your company to face this head on, you are doomed. We cannot resist technological evolution. Resistance is futile. I cannot find a single example of an industry that has resisted change that is experiencing any kind of growth.

As a manager or owner, look at yourself first. How resistant to change are you? Do you read? Do you enjoy learning? If the answer is no, it will be very difficult to expect change within your control. You lead by example, and if you aren’t being progressive and forward looking, neither will your empolyees

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