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Elevating your value in the professional world

This article is adapted from a lesson shared as part of our Business Development Clinic program. A WIL experience from the Faculty of Business and Law. Led by Professor-of-Practice Pete Williams.  

Picture this – Acme Widgets, a bustling hub of innovation and efficiency, operates smoothly thanks to a reliable widget machine. 

Tasked with cutting 100 widgets daily, this machine is the unsung hero of the manufacturing floor. But when its lease renewal comes up, a curious scenario unfolds, reflecting not just on widgets and machines but on a truth universally acknowledged in the corporate cosmos. 

The Tale of the Widget Machine

Scenario 1: If our faithful machine averages 94 widgets a day, falling short of its 100-widget target, should Acme Widgets shoulder a higher lease? The logical answer leans towards a “no.” It’s a case of expectations not being met, a scenario far too common in the corporate world. 

Scenario 2: Achieving the 100-widget mark day in, day out, the machine meets expectations. A cost-of-living increase in its lease might be justified, akin to the standard annual raise one might expect for consistent performance. Fair, but hardly exciting. 

Scenario 3: Here’s where things get interesting. Suppose a mid-year software update propels our widget machine to an impressive 110 widgets daily. Now we’re talking performance that not only meets but exceeds expectations. It’s only natural for Acme to value this increased output with a corresponding bump in the lease agreement. 

What Does This Mean for You, the Aspiring Professional? 

Just like the widget machine, your role within any organization is defined by the value you bring to the table. As you stand on the cusp of venturing from the academic into the professional realm, the widget machine’s story serves as a compelling metaphor for your career trajectory. 

To navigate the professional landscape successfully, it’s not enough to just fulfill your job description. To aspire for growth, to aim for those coveted promotions and raises, you must think beyond the widget. 

The Path to Asymmetrical Growth 

Innovate: Just as a software update enhanced the widget machine’s productivity, seek out continuous learning opportunities well after your time at Deakin. Upskill, cross-skill, and be on the lookout for ways to add value beyond your immediate role. 

Initiative: Be proactive. Identify areas for improvement or innovation within your team or organization and take the lead on projects that address these. Showing initiative can set you apart as an invaluable asset.

Impact: Measure and communicate your contributions. Like the widget machine’s clear output increase, ensure your achievements are visible and understood by your superiors. Impactful work speaks volumes.

Influence: Cultivate a network within your organization and industry. Your ability to influence and work collaboratively can amplify your contributions, much like a widget machine that not only produces more but enhances the overall production line’s efficiency. 

More Than Just Widgets 

As you embark on your professional journey, remember: your value in the workplace isn’t just about meeting expectations; it’s about exceeding them.  

Whether it’s through innovation, initiative, impact, or influence, strive to be more than just a widget machine.  

Be the upgrade that propels your career forward, ensuring you’re not just part of the process, but a pivotal player in shaping its success. 

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