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Moving Your Career Up the Value Chain: Building Specialized Development Skills in a Global Economy

Book Description

Moving Your Career Up the Value Chain: Building Specialized Development Skills in a Global Economy

Stephen B. Morris

ISBN-10: 0-76867-931-1

ISBN-13: 978-0-76867-931-1

IT complexity is growing fast in most jobs. Jobs that traditionally required few skills now demand an increasingly broad range of abilities. This reflects the requirement for broader skill sets and increased worker flexibility. Surviving as a worker today is all about managing extra responsibilities and an ever-increasing range of day-to-day duties.

You can earn more, learn more, and go further in life by moving up the value chain—a broad term that represents the way in which your skills widen and deepen over time. In the workplace, you move up the value chain by acquiring and applying relevant new skills and knowledge and then using them to rapidly solve difficult problems.

You can prepare yourself for the growing levels of commitment and flexibility demanded by your employment. Moving Your Career Up the Value Chain will help by teaching concrete methods of evaluating your current position and striking forward to make improvements. You'll learn how to:

  • Pick an area of specialization

  • Enlist mentors for help along your path

  • Use technology to your advantage

  • Improve your planning and time-management skills

  • Practice active learning to develop new skills

  • Put your new skills to work in the marketplace

  • They say every journey begins with a single step. It is the same thing with moving up the value chain. There is no single destination in this journey. There are always areas in our lives where some improvement is warranted. Moving Your Career Up the Value Chain will help you find those areas and make the necessary improvements to propel your career—and life—to the next level.

    Table of Contents

    1. Copyright
      1. Dedication
    2. About The Author
    3. Preface
      1. What This digital Short Cut Is Not About
      2. Global Trends
      3. The World Needs People to Move Up the Value Chain
      4. A Little About My Own Story
        1. Summer Dreams in “Old” Ireland
        2. London Calling
      5. Formal vs. Informal Education
      6. You Don’t Have to Be an Employee
      7. Avoiding the 4-Year-Old Syndrome
      8. Moving Up the Value Chain: A Journey, Not a Destination
      9. Becoming a Millionaire—Being the Best in One Small Area
      10. Many Millionaires Consider Themselves Failures
      11. Let’s Talk
    4. Acknowledgements
    5. 1. Are You a Follower or a Leader?
      1. The Transience of Permanent Jobs
      2. Let’s Talk About Your Job
        1. Examining Your Current Situation
        2. Jobs and Narrow Contexts
        3. My Assumptions About Your Job
      3. What’s Your Value-Add—The “Flattening” Effect?
      4. Is Your Job Purely Operational?
      5. Do You Delegate?
        1. Do You Use the Available Resources?
      6. How Often Do You Leave Your Comfort Zone?
      7. How Well Do You Know Your Organization?
      8. How Much Time Do You Spend Thinking in Abstract Terms?
      9. How Much Time Do You Spend Thinking in Concrete Terms?
      10. Is Your Job Strategic in Nature?
      11. Do You Use “Dead” Time?
      12. Do You Use the Power of Small Numbers?
      13. Can You Learn on the Job?
      14. Can You Get Past the Brick Wall?
      15. What’s Your Brand?
      16. What’s Down the Road for Your Role?
      17. Putting Your Answers Together
    6. 2. Becoming a Specialized Generalist
      1. Knowledge Is Increasing at an Unprecedented Rate
      2. Fortune Favors the Flexible
      3. Is the World of Work Really Changing So Much?
      4. Using Technology to Improve Products, Services, and Revenue
      5. Don’t Forget Your Responsibilities
      6. The New Role of Open Source in Technology
      7. Getting Ahead by Specializing
      8. Becoming a Specialized Generalist
      9. Picking Your Area of Specialization
      10. Your Reading List
      11. Learning to Safely “Dip In”
      12. The Benefits of a Business Focus—Workflow
      13. Becoming a Champion in an Area Nobody Else Likes
      14. Talent Begets Talent
      15. An Exercise for Learning to Use Dead Time
        1. An Exercise in Task Planning
      16. Mental Flexibility
      17. Learning to Rely On the One Person You Know to Be Reliable: Yourself
      18. Mental Toughness
      19. Your Brain Loves a Big Challenge
        1. Phased Learning
        2. Programming Your Subconscious Mind—The Importance of Rest
        3. Write It Down
      20. Becoming the Best in One Small Area
      21. Why It’s Useful to Present Your Work
    7. 3. Improving Your Generalist Toolkit
      1. A Quick Recap
      2. Mentors
      3. Written Task Lists
      4. What’s Your Special Skill That Can Pay Off Your Mortgage?
      5. The IT Opportunity
        1. “I Know Nothing About Computers”—The Consequences
        2. Determining Your Level of IT Expertise
        3. Simple (Abstract and Concrete) Ways to Advance Your IT Ability
      6. The Value of Rapid Overviews
      7. Using Your Intuition
      8. Informing Your Work with Quality Attributes
        1. Getting Help—Building Your Team of Experts
      9. Avoiding a Narrow Specialization
    8. 4. Delivering on Work Projects
      1. Impressive Delivery
      2. Time—The Key Resource
      3. Getting Things Done on Time and Within Budget
      4. Write It Down
      5. Kick Any Bad Habits—Wasting Time or Energy or Not Doing Your Best
      6. Building Networks
      7. Avoiding Stalled Workflows
      8. Finishing Yesterday’s Tasks and Planning Tomorrow’s
      9. Carefully Planning Work
        1. The Sooner You Start the Work, the Longer It Will Take
      10. The Power of the Low-Tech Written Task List
      11. Ownership and the Incredible Power of Small Motivated Teams
      12. Your Own Team
      13. Learning by Watching Experts at Work
    9. 5. Developing New Skills on Your Own
      1. Being Taught Is Passive; Doing Is the Most Active Learning
      2. Tenure No Longer Guarantees Anything
      3. Doing “Unpleasant” Tasks
      4. If You Don’t Like It, It’s Probably Good for You
      5. Programming the Subconscious Mind—”Taking the Problem Away”
      6. The Simple Act of Writing Things Down
      7. Cognitive Dissonance = Learning
      8. Learning One or Two Big New Key Skills Each Year
      9. Learning from Your Mistakes—There’s No Better Teacher
      10. Games: A Rich Resource for Improving Concentration
        1. Chess: An Ideal Learning Tool
        2. Simpler Games Teach Similar Lessons (Sudoku)
    10. 6. People High Up the Value Chain—Who They Are, What They’re Like
      1. Recognizing Those High Up the Value Chain
      2. A Multimillionaire Once Told Me ...
      3. Knowing Just Enough About Nonspecialist Areas—A Lazy Electrician
      4. Employing Smart People
      5. Einstein Excelled at Viewing Problems from Many Perspectives
      6. The Mathematician Andrew Wiles—Solving Fermat’s Last Theorem
    11. 7. Where Do You Go from Here?
      1. Matching Your Skills to Your Work
      2. Finding Out How Your Business Works
      3. Why Changing Jobs Is a Great Teacher
      4. Can’t This Value Chain Stuff Just Wait?
      5. Employee-Based Careers in the Twenty-First Century
      6. If You Can Deliver, You Can Do Almost Anything