Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Career planning 1: from intention to action – an initial orienting discussion of what is to follow here

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on April 12, 2017

This is my first installment to a new series that I am adding as a main sequence component to my overall Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development directory in this blog. And to put it in perspective, I am offering this series at least in part as if a continuation of a variety of more career development oriented series and stand-alone postings that I have already included here, and as an organizing framework for tying them together. I have, to cite an example that is particularly relevant here, discussed a specific career development tool in postings such as Job Search and Your Constraints Box. This and related resources and the questions and issues that they raise will come up again in this series too.

My goal for this series is to offer a more organized framework for thinking about and pursuing a best-for-you, career path and overall work life. And I begin doing so by offering a specific conceptual framework that I have found effective when thinking about jobs and careers, that I will organize this series and its narrative around:

• A business model-based work life and career development paradigm: when you are conducting a job search or working at a specific job in some stage of your overall work life, and when you are thinking in terms of and actively developing and advancing along a career path, do so as if you were a business venture in and of yourself. Think and act like a business.

Think and act like a business – that bears repeating. Think and act like an entrepreneur and like a consultant, tasked with helping an employer achieve specific goals and as efficiently and effectively as possible, and like your own boss and the owner of your work life and career fate while doing so – and even when you are working entirely in-house for a single employer, at least at any one time and even if you intend to pursue that approach and take that type of work and career path throughout your entire work life: even if you plan on working for some single employer throughout your entire work life.

What does this mean? Answering that question and in operational, practical terms is the primary goal of this series as a whole. But in short, this means thinking and acting operationally and tactically, and strategically – and it means balancing and connecting those approaches in ways that would work best for you. It means thinking ahead and in due diligence terms and yes, risk management terms as well. It means thinking in terms of case study examples that might offer positive or negative role models for your own decision making and its follow through. Sometimes we arrive at our own best practices but it is always important and even essential to keep learning from the experiences of others as well: positive and negative, when seeking out next steps that might be best for you.

I begin to flesh out that more generally and abstractly stated beginning to this series with a cartoon oversimplification that I will variously reexamine as I proceed here:

• Job search and specific jobs take place at a more tactical level and certainly in their day-to-day execution.
• Careers and career planning and development are of necessity strategic exercises and are always longer-term.
• And these, in practice, are just simplifications of a larger and more compelling reality.

Both of these points have elements of truth in them but both are oversimplifications and show for that when considered in detail. I will do that here, and I begin that at the beginning and in fact with the constraints box and its issues and opportunities.

• You cannot effectively carry out a systematically planned work life and one that can come to create consistent satisfaction and value for you – at least with any reliability or assurance of success, if you do not think through and know what holds value and meaning for you in this and what you seek to maintain and achieve from it. You need to know and you need to think and act in terms of your goals and priorities, or you will just drift.
• This holds equally true in a here-and-now jobs context and in a longer, career timeframe context. Know yourself and your priorities and needs, and think through and know what you seek to reach in your job and work life – which is the functional goal that developing and thinking through a constraints box is intended to help you reach in the first place.

There is an old saying that if you do not know where you are going, any road will do. Most possible work life paths will not in fact lead you to anything like an ideal destination as you would define that, but “any road” will lead you somewhere. This posting and this series as a whole are about knowing and choosing, so you take a right road and reach what for you would be good and even your best possible points along that journey.

I am going to address a progression of issues in this series, and begin it here by offering a briefly stated to-address list of them, that I am certain to expand upon as I proceed. But I start this series with this list to help orient where this series as a whole is going, and its path in getting there:

1. Timelines, and what you would look for in the way of sought-after goals and priorities as an organized whole and as considered at a single point in time: think of these as the two parameters as axes of a two dimensional map with one axis representing time and the other representing what you would focus on and prioritize and work towards at varying points along that timeline.
2. Thinking in terms of where you are now, and in terms of next possible steps that you might take now to specifically reach where you seek to be next.
3. Learning from the experience of others: positive and negative and developing your own best practice priorities and goals from the insight that this type of research can bring you.
4. Mentors and mentoring and from both sides of the table, and pursuing opportunities to learn and grow professionally.
5. Career planning as an ongoing process of analysis and synthesis, and thinking and planning beyond the scope of this list’s Point 2.
6. Thinking through change, and in what you seek out as your desired goals and priorities, and as change shapes the circumstances that you face while deciding that.
7. And then I will return to the reconsider careers from a more details oriented analytical perspective, and from a bigger picture synthesis perspective in light of this progression of issues and the questions that they collectively raise.

And to add a more overarching point of discussion that I will address the above in terms of, I will examine the above sets of issues, and others that arise in this series in terms of:

• What we bring to the table that we can offer as a source of value to a hiring and employing business. I made note of the prospective new hire’s or employee’s constraints box above, and what they – what we would want offered or allowed for us. That only represents one side to a larger and crucially important dynamic balance of needs and priorities. And understanding that is crucially important to any understanding of or planning for here-and-now work or overall career life. You always have to think in terms of what you want for yourself and in terms of what you offer in exchange for that value received, to make either side of this balance of needs work for you.
• And change is one of the defining features of this balance and for both of its two defining sides.
• And as a defining feature of this that is often not considered, we all tend to take old assumptions for both what we offer and what we need for granted, and even as they begin to drift out of relevance. And it is one that we can all too easily take for granted if we fail to see and understand how an employer’s needs, goals and priorities change too.
• This can become a matter of obvious importance in retrospect, but planning for and advancing along an effective career path calls for more proactive anticipation of what is possible here too, and from both an employee and an employer perspective, and regardless of which side of that table you are sitting at.
• It is important to think through and understand and execute in terms of here-and-now understandings. But it is at least as important to pursue this approach in the longer timeframes of career planning and execution too, where skills and experience held might even drift from being cutting edge in value to an employer to only holding legacy value at most for them – and certainly in fast paced industries. I focused more on the “want” side of this at the start of this posting; I will also look at its matching, “while offering” side of it in the series as a whole, and as a fundamental, negotiations-driven part of actually working as an entrepreneur and a consultant – and wherever you work.

I just completed a postings series for inclusion in this Guide: Should I Stay or Should I go?, as can be found at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 as postings 416 and following. And I ended its last installment: its Part 43 with the following lead-in text for what was to follow it:

• “I am going to end this series with this installment, and will continue my main sequence postings and series in this Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development from here, with a next series that is also career development oriented. I have for the most part treated the career planning process per se in this series, as if a black box problem, where context and needs inputs go in one end and decision point considerations come out of the other – and with any more explicitly operational and strategic activities that develop those outputs from those inputs remaining hidden and unexamined. My goal for my next-coming series in this Guide, is to invert that perspective and with a focus on discussing and analyzing what is going in inside that box.”

I have just outlined something here, as to how I am going to open up and peer into that box in this series. And I will begin to more systematically do so in my next series installment to this, and with Point 1 from the above list and its issues. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide.

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