Yesterday, I was wandering about the internet, when I bumped into Porter’s Value Chain Analysis. I had learnt that concept a few months ago, but like many other things, it got stowed away somewhere in my brain.
So what is this concept? To summarize, an organization’s value chain is the chain of activities that the organization performs as part of its business. This includes not only the primary activities for that organization (e.g. Marketing for Nike or frying chips for Hot Chips), but also extends to the non-critical (or support) activities – human resource management, facilities administration (which in turn might be critical in some other organization). The subsequent analysis of this value chain can be (and has been) used by organizations for their strategic planning.
However, I had a rather interesting discussion when I learnt this concept. The faculty on the course pointed out that in most organizations, the people who rise to the top fastest are those that have spent most of their time in that part of the chain which creates the most value. It’s a long sentence, but pause for a moment and read it again.
The most value.
Think about it.
For Apple, it’s Steve Jobs – the world’s greatest pitchman.
For PepsiCo, it’s Indra Nooyi – who has spent good time in positions related to Strategy, Marketing and Acquisitions.
And you will find many more examples.
Translating that to my career would mean 1. Evaluating what part of the chain I operate in and 2. Evaluating whether those are the parts that add most value to the organization as a whole.
Figuring out where I am is pretty easy. The tough part is when I begin to measure the value I add.
Me? Add Value? In this organization? Naaaaahh.
Considering my job profile, in any other organization I would have been simply warming a chair, waiting for the pink slip. Here, the incompetence of others makes me indispensible.
Apparently a few girls from my organization stay in the same building as I do. I’m not acquainted with them, but the identity cards they wear are unmistakable (that’s one of the pitfalls of being in the software industry – you are tagged like a dog – but that’s a story for another post).
Yesterday, when I was leaving for office, I saw one of the girls hurrying out – she had got late, and must have missed the bus. I offered her a ride, and she stepped in. After dropping my daughter to school, we started chatting on the way to office. She spoke of the technology she works on, how she misses her hometown (Delhi), and how she plans to go back there soon.
And then, she said that the workload here is very heavy, and that she regularly has to stay late in the evenings just to cope up with the work assigned. I agreed, for a lot of folks in my department spend their evenings in office as well.
“Do you have to stay late too,” she asked.
“No, I don’t do much work, and I come back home on time.”
“Oh, then you must be a manager.”
Ironically, she was right. And even more ironically, she did not mean to be sarcastic at all.
Another weekend has come and gone. This was a different one, for the monsoons announced their arrival in Mumbai. I am a big fan of the rains – until last year, I would eagerly wait for the dark clouds and the incessant rains. I would yearn for them, even getting myself in the monsoon mood by changing my desktop’s wallpapers every so often.
But this year, the excitement is missing somehow. This summer, I looked forward to the rains as usual, but this time it was different. Like in earlier years, I did not “yearn” for them – I just wanted the rains to cool the weather down.
Over the past few days, it has started raining. The mountains near my house (and office) are becoming green again, and very soon we will have waterfalls too.
Last year, I would have been daydreaming about going trekking and soaking in the rains. Last year, I would have spent the week planning the weekend, researching possible spots and routes with my Honey.
This year, it is different.
The weather is fantastic, but the atmosphere is gloomy.