My manager had posted a short article on linked in recently on how this would be the decade where value would be the key – how we create value for our clients, our employees and ourselves. Herein, often times the value we create for others is easier accomplished than the value we create for ourselves. This could be due to several reasons, including, lack of awareness on how to create value for oneself, lack of prioritizing value creation for self, amongst others.
In this post I will talk about a simple but powerful way to move up the professional value chain for oneself, based on a recent conversation that I was having with my fellow co-workers. This is the chain of an executor, developer, and innovator (rather the I-D-E model).
Early on in our careers, most of us are executors; we take on instructions on what needs to be done, we look up to our mentors for guidance and execute them. We learn the art of the trade, including technical and soft skills along the way. Having a good manager and team herein goes a long way to learn effectively in the early years.
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As you move up the value chain, one is gradually taking on the role of a developer – not a software developer in the truest sense, but one who creates solutions that the entire team and even clients can use. You are beginning to think big on how to solve problems, how to build scalable solutions, how to help generate value for the executors and anyone else that you work with.
Gradually you are elevating yourself to move further on in the value chain to become an innovator – you are thinking out of the box, following (if not creating) trends, looking beyond the current and status quo to align your group and organization’s vision with newer solutions, leveraging optimal and smart practices.
While organizations are striving to remain flat, this above model will differentiate how people are growing up the value chain and will bring in the much needed meaning into one’s career. It will also enable career progression and planning for managers, for their teams, and bring in the much needed objectivity into the process.
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While the above model is a general one applicable to any function, here are a few additional points to consider:
- There is nothing stopping an individual get to the innovator phase early on in the career. It really depends on the individual’s drive, exposure, work, on how soon to get to each of these stages
- Years of experience does not really matter here. Someone with ten years of experience for example, may still be an executor whereas someone with just two years of experience may very well be an innovator
- At all stages in one’s career, the value of a good mentor cannot be understated. There is no end to the learning cycle, and mentors go a long way in enabling us think well, right and big
- Being an innovator does not stop one from being a developer and executor. Often times, one is a super set of another, so even as an innovator one has got to be ready to roll up the sleeves and jump into action, as required
- Be ready for reverse learning too. A lot of solution ideas are often received from the field. For example, the pain areas that an executor has, can be solid ideas for developers and innovators. A tight bonding is thus important to make this a cohesive team
- The idea of such a model is not to differentiate one from another – but to create a value chain and an objective career path forward to continue to constructively challenge everyone on the team
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Back in the days, the industry had a fork in the career path progression. The above would have been the path for someone in the technical ladder, whereas there was another which was the managerial ladder. Thankfully, these streams are merging today for a couple of reasons:
- The agile dynamics is looking for ongoing value and continuous development that we cannot afford to have just a managerial stream; everyone has to do his/her bit technically in the ecosystem
- The sheer managerial track was evolving to be a set of people that would merely give instructions, get the work done and be a messenger of the work done by the team. A lot of paper pushing and complacency was thereby setting in, which could not be rightfully afforded in the Agile world; More importantly, the value quotient was being lost.
This model of I-D-E, enables parallel growth of both technical and managerial skills enabling individuals to reap more meaning in what they do and what they deliver for their clients and co-workers. As a software testing company in the quality engineering services space, we definitely see a lot of relevance in the above model. That said, this is not limited to a given domain or technology. It is agnostic to individual attributes and can be easily leveraged by all organizations and individuals alike. Let this be the decade where value is key and to that extent let’s continuously evaluate where we stand in the ecosystem and empower ourselves to keep moving along this I-D-E value chain.