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Prepared People Provide the Competitive Edge!
by Valarie Washington

Is your company on the right track? Are they, are you focused on the important things that will drive success in the future? Will the product you sell, the customer you serve remain the same five to ten years from now? How about your job, will the skills you have today serve you in tomorrow's job market? Not likely!

Most of us know that there is something wrong with the way we work today.
Yet we keep doing the same things naively expecting different results. Getting out of this rut and moving forward requires a new focus and new ideas. In the face of these ever-changing realities the only way that we can get ahead of the curve is by learning to clearly articulate goals, watching and predicting trends.

Did you know that?

  • Experts estimate that 80% of products that we use today will be obsolete in 3-5 years.
  • 50% of all jobs for the next six years have not been created.
  • 50 years ago it took a lifetime for technology to make a job irrelevant -- now it takes 2-3.
  • New York Times article reported that nearly 2,000 jobs are eliminated daily.
  • 70% of workers experience stress related illnesses.

The good news is that "the value of human capital will be the most valuable resource in the 21st century."

Companies are quick with the rallying cry that people are their most valuable asset. It's not what you have but how you use it. It is not just "people" but prepared people, people with focus and drive that will provide the competitive advantage.

Work of the future will not fit into the neatly defined boxes that we call jobs. If you are going to be successful in advancing and managing your career, you must adjust your way of thinking from getting a job to finding work that adds value to the company.

You add value to a company when you:


  • Understand the needs of the business.
  • Understand and separate your needs, wants, and desires.
  • Balance the business needs, your needs, and the realities of work.

Understand The Needs Of The Business

The first rule of business is simple and can be stated with one word -- "PROFITABILITY". Profit is the difference between sales revenue and costs. If a company is not profitable it will not succeed. Without profits there are no raises, no growth, no profit sharing, no bonuses, and eventually no jobs.

Every business no matter the industry must add to the economic value of the enterprise. Our careers and our livelihood are dependant on understanding what drives profitability. To know how you and your talents positively impact the companies bottom-line puts you in the drivers seat.

In time of great uncertainty a company must work with a focused urgency and a unity of purpose. The focus and purpose is the bottom-line and requires balancing six equally important drivers. We call them The Business 6™.


  1. Increase Revenue
  2. Increase Quality
  3. Increase Productivity
  4. Reduce Costs
  5. Reduce Cycle-Time
  6. Increase Customer Loyalty

If you are thinking that you are just a small fish in the big pond with no effect on profits then you are swimming upstream. Every decision you make has an organizational impact. Some are small and some are great but if you think that you have NO impact on The Business 6™ then you have no life raft!

Understand And Separate Your Needs, Wants, And Desires As important has it is for your organization to plan for the future and set strategic goals, so is true for you. Without knowing where you are going, you are constantly evaluating your life in retrospect. Working smart means working toward well established and articulated professional and organizational goals.

To begin examine your interests, abilities and experiences, and think about what you consider the ideal job. Based on this information, determine your goals and develop a plan for reaching them.

Working smart means focusing on value-added activities that promote profitability. You can't be an effective systems analyst, HR representative, trainer, or manager unless you understand how your role serves the business as a whole.

Defining your career goals within the context of business needs gives you a concrete way to increase and express your value to the organization. To be effective stay current on industry trends and prepare yourself for challenges you may face. Look for educational opportunities that enhance your expertise and sharpen new and existing skills. Knowing how your work contributes to the overall goals will lead to added confidence, boldness, and enthusiasm.

Balance The Business Needs, Your Needs, And The Realities Of Work

A job is a temporary way to package tasks that need to done for the department. These help the company achieve its overall mission. The more a job contributes to the organization or to customer satisfaction, the longer the job is likely to last.

It is important to see your job in the context of the larger organization, industry and/or profession. You need to develop a clear line of sight between what you do everyday and how the company performs.

Never forget that every decision you make in the course of your career must be made in the context of the business's goals. Always try and go above and beyond your job description. Don't just do what's asked of you, think of other ways you can contribute to the success of the team.

Each company wanting to be profitable is constantly balancing The Business 6™. It is that goal that should impact each and every business decision that you make.

The key to future success does not find its origins solely in the way we work, but also in the way we think. The ability to think differently is the key to creating innovative solutions to old problems. Our ability to move from stagnation to growth means that we must see challenges as obstacles that can be overcome, and have a confidence in our ability to remain focused on the goal.

That done, the success or failure of your mission will ultimately be determined by dozens of small decisions you make everyday. With each decision, ask yourself two simple questions.

Question 1: "Is this action going to lead me toward my goal?" If you answer "no" and if you are truthful with yourself, refocus, change and direct your behavior toward your goals.

Question 2: "Is the decision I am about to make in line with the organization's goal and The Business 6™?" If the answer is yes, proceed with full vigor! If the answer is no, rethink and develop a new course of action.

We will all face challenges in our lives personally and professionally. It is not what happens to us, it’s what we do about it that counts. Those who are great predictors of trends to come and those that set purposeful goals accordingly will be the victors.

© 2003 Valarie A. Washington 

Valarie Washington is a knowledge broker with more than 13 years experience managing and driving corporate, professional, and personal change. She delivers high impact training workshops to corporations throughout the U.S. and internationally. Visit her World Wide Web site at http://www.ilinkperformance.com. Contact her at 630-705-1189 or washington@thebusiness6.com.

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