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I’ve been on the ‘value’ bandwagon for quite some time now, but I recently had an epiphany courtesy of Ulla de Stricker during the recent CLA webinar “Becoming Indispensable: The Value Proposition”. It was one of those moments where you understand that you’ve been headed in the wrong direction; a real lightning bolt. I was so affected that I followed up with Ulla for a further discussion.

So, what led to this epiphany? Okay, here you go: accept “what is”. Sounds like a simple concept, right? But in fact, this is the exact opposite of what we’ve been doing for the past few years. Ulla’s theory, in a nutshell, is that we work within the current value perception of our organization and stop fighting to demonstrate our value in areas that it is actually not valued. While this makes perfect sense, it isn’t necessarily what we’ve been advocating. Instead, we try to prove our value using our own definitions, but does any of it align with the value perception of the organization? If it doesn’t, what are we doing besides beating our heads against a wall?

Ulla takes a pragmatic view and says, “it is more productive to work with the existing perception of value” than to create a new one. I believe we have all been blind to this fact and then wonder why we aren’t valued by our organizations. As Greg recently stated in his post on Value:

There’s a fine line between providing value every day and having to explain to those we work with why they should understand why we are valuable.

So, what should we be doing? Ulla suggests a very simple solution: follow the money and you will be able to tell what the organization values. It may not be what we value or even where we think we can contribute at the highest level, but if X is what the organization values, then X is where we must be. This means there is no identical road map for everyone. We must each create our own value within each individual organization based on that organization, and not some preconceived notion of the value of an information worker. That, when you think about it, actually sounds more valuable.

Note: See also Ulla’s recent blog post: Working with Reality: Times Have Changed…So Can We