For those who go off to the Himalayas to discover themselves, value is in being. However, in business, value arises largely through doing. Value is not a noun but a verb. It is what you do, how you perform that justifies the pay check and not who you are. So what does the verb to do mean in a business context?
Doing may involve working with our hands, interacting with others, thinking through problems, creating designs or planning activities. What is important in business is that we do the right thing. We can’t expect the boss, manager or leader to tell us what the right thing is. They may provide guidance, but determining the right thing is something we have to discover for ourselves. We have to make an effort to understand the business needs, the current goals, the nature of the clients and their needs. Who are the players in delivering a product and what are their roles? Are there timing issues? What needs to be communicated and to whom?
Although identifying value is an ongoing process, it is particularly important when we begin a new job or start a task in an unfamiliar area. Many people take a long time to show value simply because they don’t try to understand what needs to be done, but expect to be told. Your first obligation is to understand the business and understand what you need to do that will be of value to the organization.
The next step is delivering value. Delivering value is not just a matter of doing something once and going on to other things. Doing in a business context almost always means repetition. We follow a set of routines: We check our email every day. We answer the phone. We show up at work. We follow patterns in coding and design. We double check a document for errors. We plan the activities of the day.
We don’t come to a new job with all the right routines in place. We have to develop the appropriate routines. The major difficulty here is not a matter of our understanding, but the tendency of the mind to remain stuck in old routines. This must be the major cause of why people fail to adapt to the work place. It’s not that they lack the capacity or understanding. It’s that they resist changing their manner of working to suit the requirements at work.
We find it difficult to break out of the routines we identify with. We see ourselves as a designer and try to come up with ideas in our head but fail to confirm if those ideas work with the client or we don’t check our email regularly because it isn’t specifically related to design. We feel uncomfortable doing things outside the routine. Starting a new project can be stressful so we find it easier to while away our time on a project that should have been completed, hours, days or months ago.
Doing the right thing means changing the whole pattern of our routine and these kinds of changes can be painful. However, it is by enduring the pain of lifting smaller weights that the athlete comes to be a champion weightlifter. If we give up at the first sign of pain we will never acquire the strength needed to deliver value. If we find it difficult to adjust to the pace of work, we look for areas where we can adjust and keep working at it till we find we can adjust. What we need at this point is commitment, not a commitment to torturing ourselves, but a commitment to putting up with a bit of pain now because we know that in doing so we will be able to do the right thing.
Identifying and delivering value are two essential processes in creating value. In both cases, we need to understand that creating value is our baby. If the baby isn’t properly nourished we can’t blame it on the fact that the store was closed or there was a power failure. Creating value means we do what needs to be done.
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