Once we decide we’re oh-so-productive, we tend to think working strategically no longer matters. Instead, we’ll just try and squeeze more work into the same amount of time. Determining a strategy and adhering to it can mean tough choices. And so we often opt for the path of least resistance: skipping it altogether.
As I write this, I’m realizing how relevant the topic is for me personally. I tend to try and optimize my time, especially now, working at home with my family, when I’m trying to get the most out of a few scarce hours of concentrated work. But there’s lots to gain by investing some of that time in thinking about your own strategy and what sets your work apart.
Porter grants that discovering your strategic positioning is not always easy. Finding it requires creativity and insight. In that same article, he shares some questions that can help. I adapted them to fit individuals, but I’m including Porter’s original questions, meant for businesses:
- What do you bring to the table that’s most distinctive? (Which of our product or service varieties are the most distinctive?)
- What do you bring that’s most profitable? (Which of our product or service varieties are the most profitable?)
- Of all those who make use of your qualities and skills, who is most satisfied with you? (Which of our customers are the most satisfied?)
- Of all those who make use of your qualities and skills, who is most valuable? (Which customers, channels, or purchase occasions are the most profitable?)
- What activity of yours is the most distinct and effective? (Which of the activities in our value chain are the most different and effective?)
The more things you do that connect and align with one another, the clearer your strategy will be for colleagues and the outside world. A clear strategy automatically attracts work that suits you. This is true for independent contractors, but it’s also true for employees within organizations.
When I was at Blendle, there were engineers who focused on user interfaces, and there were engineers who took on the software architecture. Making a clear choice and voicing that preference meant they had a much greater chance of getting work that was up their alley.
Take the time to write up your strategy. What do you do that’s different from everyone else? What’s your onlyness? And which activities of yours reflect that?
Have a great week,