Working the edge is better than the middle

By Scot Herrick | Cube Rules Commentary

Aug 02

The edge is a daunting place. You stand on the edge of a cliff and you are so very close to falling. The edge at the top of a roller coaster is right where the pause is before the big fall. The edge of a knife is dangerous, but the precise place to use to cut food for dinner.

Working for corporations have edges as well. The edge is where new projects are initiated. The edge is the new business area the company wants to work. The edge is the new product release that will bring in revenue. Working the edge in a corporation is dangerous business as well — projects get canceled, new business areas don’t work out and products fail.

Despite the risks, the edge is where you want to be working in a company.

The middle is where the layoffs occur

Working in that nice, safe business process means you are entirely a cost to the corporation. Sure, your work is important, your work function has value, but it is all a cost. What do businesses try and do with costs? Reduce them, improve them, and combine them. All in an effort to reduce the cost and improve the productivity of the function.

In short, your job is always in jeopardy. Always at a risk for layoff from the improvements or for outsourcing. Because your company’s goal is to minimize the cost of the middle where everything is known and standardized.

The edge is where change occurs

When corporate executives get together to figure out the next big thing, they initiate projects to bring about the next big thing. In other words, they are now working the edge and need people to help push that edge to success.

The edge gives you visibility to the future in the company. The edge gives you a constant learning environment to bring about change. The edge gives you new job skills to learn and put in practice. Working the edge means the company thinks you are a person who can take the company to the future it needs. And working the edge gives you the stuff to put on a resume that helps you market yourself to other companies, regardless of what happens at your current company.

Working the edge is not easy; it requires a great deal of working with ambiguity, without structure and with no clear direction. But working the edge is better than working the middle.

Are you working at the change points in your organization?

Photo by The Ewan

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.