Don’t Deal In The Commodity

A commodity is a basic good used in commerce that is interchangeable with other goods of the same type.” [Investopedia]

Every project that you do is made up of commodities. It is your job to organize the commodities to create something unique that no one else is building. The problem is, producing a commodity can be much easier than organizing commodities to invent something new and amazing. 

The difference between producing a commodity and organizing resources can sometimes be hard to see. The work may look the same, but the outcome and benefit of the work is very different. 

  1. It is much easier to do software development (which is a commodity) than it is to create a user experience that people love. 
  2. You can be a project manager who delivers the project with the right specifications and on time (a commodity), or you can help people provide a project result that reflects precisely what the users need. 
  3. You can be a middle manager who directs resources and meets your quarterly targets (a commodity), or you can be a leader that lifts people up and makes them be better people. 

To know if you are simply producing a commodity, or if you are organizing commodities to become something bigger than the sum of its pieces, ask yourself the following question: 

  • Could I produce the same results by directing others to do the work? 

If others could easily do the work that you are doing, then you are dealing with a commodity. Find a way to make your work unique so that you are the only one who can do what you offer. Then you are on your way to making an unexpected difference in the world. 

You can find ways to offer value that isn’t commodity-level contributions. Whether you are a developer, project manager, or middle-manager, there is something that you can add that is unique and unexpected that no one else can replicate. 

Don’t make contributions that are interchangeable – go out and make something extraordinary.