Friday, 4 July 2014

Do you do jobs or do you add value?

A few months ago I was approached by a large US consultancy with a view of helping them with very short assignments across Europe. Somebody I know had recommended me to the recruiter and I felt excited because I like the idea of doing high impact short assignments with a clear idea how I add value. The initial conversation by email sounded very promising to me so I agreed to a call with the hiring manager.

On a rather cold day I decided to take the call while walking along the canal in Reading and that certainly added to a sense of urgency – I can only appreciate this now, a few months later. The call begun with a general chat and I tried to emphasise on every step that I am only interested if the role fits with what I am after. It was soon clear that the person I talk to is:

  • very busy
  • talks to hundreds of people like me every day
  • mostly interested in filling the role
  • doesn’t understand Agile values the same way that I do

So 15-20 minutes into it, it didn’t look like our opinions converge and I had decided to interrupt the conversation and call it a day. Why was I surprised? I was approached by a large (alarm bell #1) US (alarm bell #2) consultancy (alarm bell #3). That should have been enough, right? Unless I was not listening to the bells… I believe the answer is relatively simple – the company were recommended to me and I was recommended to them by someone I knew therefore this activated my social brain who then obviously took over… But this is not the main point that I wanted to describe in this post

Over the next few weeks it so happened that I got several calls from other agencies and consultancies and as if on purpose the conversation always was around “doing this job” with a focus on fulfilling a role requirement and executing something written in a role description as opposed to making a positive difference or adding value to a business. At that point I knew that it is all broken. All I have seen and experienced in all these years of working for other companies has been mostly broken. Something like “do this activity for me” and I will pay you vs “help me do better”… Sounds to me very similar to my friend Mike Sutton’s post on working with someone vs working for someone.

So I think I developed this new understanding that I really have no interest in just doing a job. That I really am after an opportunity allowing me to add value to a team or an organisation with a clear vision that I can subscribe to – like “delighting customers” or “improving people’s lives” or “helping reduce waste” and while there may not be many of these organisations in existence then I can at least try to get as close to this as possible.

And this is how my not so conscious decision to end the call on that cold winter day now makes sense to my conscious mind. I do want to work with you to add value but I am not that  interested in the purely transactional doing a job or working for you.

That’s how it is for me. How about you?