What Is Your Value?

Miguel Guhlin’s post, “Helping Others Understand” triggers some interesting questions for ed tech leaders. How would you show a new upper administrator what you do? Miguel chose to provide a graph showing how many Instructional Technology Workshops were given and another graph showing how those workshops broke down by topic. He uses the data to ask several provocative questions, “How is all this impacting teaching and learning in the district?” and “ …are the blue, red, and yellow items a distraction from our primary mission or complements to Tech Apps: TEKS work?”

Many of us can describe what we do and show some data to ground it:

Number of help desk calls received
Number of network issues resolved
Average resolve time for technical issues
How many viruses or spam e-mails stopped
Number of workshops by type

What these data do not help others understand is the value we produce. Value is a concept with which many of us in ed tech have difficulty. We are “Doer’s” so we highlight what we do. The issue is that sometimes there is a disconnect between what we do and the perceived value we produce. This shows up in conversations that sound like this,

“You are doing a great job; but we are going to have to reduce your budget.” The translation? “We see you are doing a lot of ‘things’, and doing them really well; but these ‘things’ aren’t as valuable as some others.”

So, how can we understand and communicate our value more effectively? My friend Tom White describes value as,

“an assessment of the “customer” at a given moment in time.”

Given this definition a good starting point is to ask the following questions:

“Who is my “customer”? (The customer is WHO will be making the assessment about how valuable you or your team is. Are you absolutely clear about this? Do you have multiple customers? Who is the primary? customer?)

“What does my customer value?” (This will be HOW they judge how valuable you or your team is. How do you know? Have you asked?)

“What value, do I, or does my team, currently provide to the organization?” (Are you clear about the value you currently produce (this is different than what you do) and have you communicated that value to your customer?)

“Is the value that I, or my team produce(s) appreciated by the organization?” (If ‘yes’, why? If ‘no’, why not?)

“How do I measure the value I produce?” (In order to ground your value, you must find a way to measure it.)

The success of educational technology, as well as our own success as ed tech leaders is directly connected to the value we produce; and value is an assessment that others make. When a person values something, they will go to great lengths to protect it, to strengthen it, to insure its success. As leaders we are continually called on to highlight the value we produce; as well as the value of educationa technology…now, in its role as a supporter and enhancer of the curriculum; and in the future, as a catalyst for the transformation of teaching and learning.

pete

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4 thoughts on “What Is Your Value?

  1. Pete: Great post!
    This is also a tough issue for educators and instructional designers, as it is for all goods and service providers. Are the customers buying what we did, or what it did for them? Is the value in what we delivered or what the customers discovered changed in their world as a result? The deliverables provide extrinsic value that can be quantified and put in reports objectively. “The discoverables” are intrinsically valuable (eye of the beholder, strength of the relationship, mood of the buyer) and are subjective in nature. We have to get out of our frames of reference to think about customers as you propose – and that’s not easy.

    tom

  2. Tom;
    Right!

    And think about the position the teacher is in…who is their customer? The students? The administration? or the parents? If all three, then which is the highest priority?

    Do we really research what it is our students value? or do we assume?

    If we are not clear about our own value, how can others be clear enough about it to understand and appreciate it?

    pete

  3. Pete, fascinating questions posed. The challenging aspect is helping people understand that they SHOULD value something. I see this as creating awareness of a need for a service that doesn’t exist but that people have…think of it as a child being irritable/grumpy because they don’t know that they need to take a nap. The need is there, but they aren’t aware of it…more here:
    http://www.mguhlin.net/archives/2007/05/entry_3234.htm

    Take care,
    Miguel Guhlin
    Around the Corner-MGuhlin.net
    http://mguhlin.net

  4. Excellent questions Pete. I know from experience that all this consideration of customers can lead to burnout. “The customer is always right” means the Tech Support, teacher or liaison person is always compromised”. It sets up a lose/win deal of continual sacrifice and excessive accommodation of the customer. Situations with customers with conflicting demands, priorities and agendas creates a no-win situation. The other customers are not going to concede and the responsive, value conscious provider is caught in the middle.

    One solution is to get everybody reading what the others are thinking. That’s blogging and wiki at its best. Collective wisdom emerges instead of lose/win or no win divisiveness. Everyone is accommodating others and being conscious of the value for other stakeholders.

    tom

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