Doing and Knowledge Continuum

Listen up youngsters, I’m about to give you a very valuable lesson in your future career growth.

I recently had an enlightening conversation with a colleague when the topic of career conversations came up. He shared a model with me that put this into a whole new light for me. After he explained it to me, I told him flat out that I was going to steal it, and that is exactly what I am doing here… Picasso said that great artists steal. So do HR bloggers.

Below is my diagram of what was shown to me. The X-Axis represents time in your career. The Y-Axis is the percentage of value you bring to your organization. In other words, when you are first starting out, most, if not all, of your value is coming from what you are doing. You are not being paid for what you know at this point. As a boss from early in my career once told me: “we do not pay you to think, if we did, you would owe us money.” Of course, this isn’t the case for long, and soon, the majority of your value is derived from what you know, and less from what you do. This is the point where you are delegating, you are supervising, you are leading. Does this mean that you sit back in your faux-leather high-backed chair from Office Depot and not actually engage in the work? No. But doing the work is not where your value comes from. Your value comes from what you know. Your contribution is what you know.

As I thought about this, I realized that this is the ideal situation, but it is not always the case. Sometimes the transition from Doing to Knowing doesn’t happen, and the continuum might look more like this:

In this situation, the employee simply stopped trying to learn, and they failed to make the transition from a job to a career. 

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