Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Career planning 21: career planning while navigating change and uncertainty 3

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on December 8, 2017

This is my 21st installment to a series in which I seek to break open what can become a hidden workings, self-imposed black box construct of career strategy and planning, where it can be easy to drift into what comes next rather than execute to realize what could be best for us (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 459 and following for Parts 1-20.)

I selectively wrote in Part 20 about how innovations, and perhaps disruptively novel ones in particular begin small for their reach of impact, and expand out from there. And I began, in that context, a discussion of how this progressively impacts upon skills and experience that would offer particular value for advancing this New, and for how it impacts upon skills and experience that would come to seem more dated and even obsolete as a result too.

I posed a set of questions and issues at the end of Part 20 that I said I would address next in this series, and repeat them here for smoother continuity of narrative, and as a starting point for further discussing them:

• Where and how is innovation in its perhaps still beginning stage already impacting on businesses and the markets that they serve?
• What areas of work and what skills and experience sets are now coming into demand because of this for those businesses, and what ones might be losing their perceived value and significance to those employers as they retool and reorganize towards this New?
• What directions if any, do these dislocations seem to be moving in as the impact and reach of this innovation begins to spread out and expand and both within its initial industry and sector and to others that would pick up on it?
• You can safely assume that any skill or experience set that an innovation has already made more vulnerable in one industry or sector, will become at least as vulnerable and career limiting in others too, as a once new and still forming innovation really takes hold and across wider and wider business and marketplace communities.
• And the questions and issues of workplace and skills set dependencies enter into this here too.

My goal for this series installment is to at least begin to address these questions from a more focused career development perspective. And I do so by offering a point of overriding strategic consideration when career planning in the face of change, and by raising some general orienting background questions that would help to take any answers to the above bullet pointed questions and comments at least somewhat out of the abstract, by making them more relevant to the specific reader. First the more general point:

• It is easy to get caught up in the generalities when facing broad-based disruptive change as it impacts on work and employment and on society as a whole. All you need for that, is to keep up with the news and with news stories that announce lay-offs and businesses bringing in automation and similar job-ending (and job-creating) change. But you have to think all of this through in terms of your own life experience and your own skills and work experience that you can build from, if you are going to make this type of knowledge and insight a valuable resource for your own planning.

Impact on larger and more diffused and varied demographics might help put matters into a broader perspective. But you need to consider your own specific circumstances and your own potential, to make individually meaningful use of this type of knowledge. And with that, I pose my first two more individualized questions, that would help bring the generalities of the above questions into more useful focus for you:

• Where do you excel and offer real defining value?
• And what of that would you find most rewarding and satisfying for you as a source of next career path steps?

Let’s begin with the second of those questions and by addressing your workplace and career path comfort zone, at least as it is currently shaped by you. And I begin clarifying what that of necessity involves, by stating that comfort zones are always multilayered: built in the form of onions with inner cores and outermost layers and more in between.

• In the middle is your here and now workplace and job description – and even if you are not actually happy or satisfied with it. You have that job and its salary and benefits and your employer has been willing and perhaps even happy to have you there, so you have at least a perceived measure of job security there. And it is familiar. You know what you have to do and how, and who you work with and who you can and cannot rely upon there. Unless you have been laid off and are out of work now, this is generally the center of that onion.
• What if you do have to move on, or alternatively find a new position with your current employer? That, I add can even mean a promotion (and either with a current employer or from taking a higher level position on a table of organization elsewhere.) Change always brings at least some uncertainty to our lives and even for full time consultants who go through that as a basic element of their career path per se. You have your demonstrable skills and work history and experience that you can build from, and the second layer out would involve work and efforts to secure it that would simply build from and use the skills and experience that you have now. The more novelty you would face in this, the farther out from the core of this comfort zone construct you would move.
• Let’s arbitrarily put a new job that has a larger amount of novelty – to you, but with that coming in the form of standard and routine for a hiring business, as the third layer building out from the core. Consider as an example of that, you’re taking on a first for you, lower level management position in a functional area and type of work context that you are already familiar with from your hands-on non-managerial work experience.
• Basically, I am adding in larger amounts of novelty with every incremental step out from that starting core here, and more and more significant types of new to you novelty as well as larger quantities of it – as perceived by you.
• What if you have to change industries, but with your taking a job in essentially the same basic functional area, whether sales or marketing, bookkeeping and accounting, computer network management in an Information Technology department, or whatever? You have to learn new in-house and in-industry jargon and a lot of new expectations, and you will probably find yourself having to learn and fit into a whole new type of corporate culture than you have seen before.
• Now let’s consider more fundamental career changes. Here, you are going to find yourself developing new skills and experience in new types of work to be carried out. And this means thinking through what it genuinely transferable and even very broadly so from your prior, perhaps largely more specialized work experience. Communications and negotiating skills and interpersonal skills enter in here as obvious examples, but most of us can find ways to both transfer other skills, and ways to effectively argue their value in that too. Thinking though your own skills and experience sets and what you could generalize and transfer of that into what new settings, is a big part of individualizing all of this for yourself and making it work for you.
• This type of skills generalization, I add, is an important consideration when moving out of that innermost core layer and into any layer beyond it, through skills and experience transferability and from really cultivating what you can do and offer with them. This, I have to note, becomes more and more important the further out from that comfort zone center that you move, or might have to move.
• Up to here, everything faced would at least be relatively standard for the businesses you work for or might work for. Let’s begin adding more fundamental change into this narrative now. And with that we face more outer layers to this complexly structured comfort zone, and areas of it where uncertainty almost certainly exceeds comfort per se at least at times for you. But even there, it can still be possible to find an accommodating balance between uncertainty and comfort for yourself in all of this.
• In these layers, both you and any business you do or might realistically work with are facing the New and unknown. And accommodating the demands of this position, so outwardly placed relative to that starting, tried and true core of your overall comfort zone depends on how steep a learning curve you would have to face to adapt to it and in ways that would satisfy an employer’s due diligence as well as your own. And this position outward relative to that starting, tried and true core depend on how thoroughly in advance you can even know what type of learning curve you have to go through and succeed at, and how many unknowns and uncertainties you would at least start out with for that, limiting your understanding of what you would even have to learn in order to succeed.
• The outmost layer and outmost edge of that, for your comfort zone is where uncertainty and the concerns that creates effectively overwhelm any sense of stability and certainty that you might realistically achieve, and any level of apparent risk from change that you would personally see as being viable for yourself and your work life and career path. Within that outermost for you, layer and its outer edge, you can at least in principle find an acceptable to you path forward through change faced. At and beyond that outer boundary, you cannot.

Those of us who are more comfortable with change and uncertainty can in fact have, and cultivate developing, a larger and more layered overall comfort zone here. Those who are more risk and change aversive and who see risk and change as if interchangeable concepts, might reach their outermost boundary in all of this, very close to the outer edge of their comfort zone core and in effect find themselves unable to contemplate let along adapt to any real change at all.

One of the most important skills that I would propose you’re developing here in this series is a greater and more flexible capacity to look at and face change, and even disruptive change, so you can find paths forward through it that would work for you, and bring you back into what for you would be a meaningful, comfort zone core again – even if a very different one than you have created for yourself in your past.

I have been addressing the two more individualized career planning questions in this posting, that I proffered right before delving into comfort zones above. But I have only started my overall discussion of them. Consider the above stated comfort zone organizing model as laid out here, a framework for further discussion. I am going to further address those questions in my next series installment, and after that I am going to reconsider the more general bullet pointed questions and comments that I repeated towards the start of this posting.

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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Some thoughts concerning a general theory of business 19: considering first steps toward developing a general theory of business 11

This is my 19th installment to a series on general theories of business, and on what general theory means as a matter of underlying principle and in this specific context (see Reexamining the Fundamentals directory, Section VI for Parts 1-18.)

The basic approach that I take to business theory at least begins at a more reductionistic, individual participant and interpersonal interaction level, and expands out from there with allowance for emergent properties as higher levels of organization are considered. And in keeping with that approach, I have in recent installments to this series, been at least somewhat systematically discussing the individual employee, who might or might not have managerial responsibilities as well as directly hands-on ones.

So I focused in at least significant measure in Part 17 and again in Part 18, on the new hire and on how hiring managers and the businesses that they work for as a general rule screen out possible job candidates more on the basis of why they would not work out, and with a goal of eliminating most of them from consideration, than they do from the perspective of looking for how these potential new hires would work out and why they should be hired and brought in. And I at least noted in that context, that when and as a winning candidate is selected and hired, that dynamic becomes reversed. Now the dynamic is more one of looking for reasons to keep an already hired employee on, barring overriding considerations such as complete incompetence or downsizing pressures to reduce the workforce in general in at least their area of the business.

That pre-hire side to this has become more and more pressingly necessary and particularly over the past dozen years or so, and particularly as businesses have come to routinely post job opportunities online and in effect at least, globally, and as candidates have come to routinely blanket submit e-file copies of their largely generic resumes to any and every potential employer that is offering an at least vaguely appropriate job opening for them to apply to. Businesses look to weed out and discard any at least partly inappropriate applicants from consideration first and usually by essentially automated means, and do so as a survival mechanism so their hiring process does not become entirely broken down from the flood of extraneous resume submissions, that their much fewer good candidates at least start out, lost in.

The post-hire side to this makes sense at least as compellingly as the hiring manager who agreed to a particular job candidate brings them in, putting at least part of their own reputation and standing on the line there too. But neither of these process and decision-driven relationships can be meaningfully captured as binary, two person interactions. Wider ranges of stakeholders are always involved and on both pre and post sides of any hiring decision too.

This obviously holds true in the post-hiring context that I just cited for a first hiring and now supervising manager who sees a downside to themselves if they become seen as making faulty decisions here. But other stakeholders are almost always brought into the interviewing process for top candidates, and this can include co-workers who a new hire would work with on an ongoing basis, in-house client stakeholders who a new hire would do work for and who would depend on that being done effectively and on time if they are to meet their own goals and schedules, and others. These stakeholder groups can all come from a single localized area of the overall table of organization, that a new hire would work for but they can and at times do come from more wide ranging parts of the business too. And the more wide-ranging the commitment and buy-in when hiring, the more widespread a sense of buy-in is going to be in place to justify a hiring decision and to help see that it does work out successfully.

This example, as I have been addressing here is important in and of itself. But I would put it in a wider, more comprehensive perspective here by noting that:

• A business can, among other things, be viewed as a dynamic system of overlapping and interconnected stakeholder networks, some assembled on the spot for specific purposes just to dissolve as their sources of impetus for forming are resolved, and some enduring long term.
• And long-term ones, can even become effectively enshrined in the business model and in strategic and operational systems, where membership can become title and position based to allow for smoother member turnover as people come and go in a business’ workforce, and as people there change jobs within the organization. Much of this is in fact laid out at least for likelihood of arising in the table of organization itself, but even stable and seemingly permanent functional networks of this type can systematically cut across the table of organization too, and even intentionally so.
• Ultimately and according to this understanding, business systems and their functioning can be viewed as representing complex and evolving networks of interpersonal interactions, and interpersonal commitments. Think of the hiring process and new employee onboarding process example that I have been focusing on here, as a case in point example of a much more widespread general set of phenomena.

With that larger framework perspective noted, I return to that specific case in point example and to a simplifying detail that I offered (again) in this posting when briefly and selectively discussing it:

• The basic issues that I have raised here regarding candidate hiring and employee retention dynamics as they arise, are essentially the same for most all businesses
• And regardless of whether an individual under consideration as a new hire-turned-employee, would or would not have managerial authority and position.

The principles regarding individual and interpersonal behavior that I have addressed up to here in this discussion, apply in general across businesses organizations as a whole, and for most all businesses. But that said and returning to my new hire to in-house employee example, the type of position that a new arrival would hold in a business, is important here too.

Consider my discussion of this up to here as setting a foundational baseline for what is to follow. And I begin this next phase of this narrative by expanding out a list of criteria that would enter into shaping how different types of employees can face very different situations in their hiring to onboarding to retention or dismissal experience, by offering for consideration:

• More routine hire hands-on non-managerial employees, and I add more routine and entry level managers – versus – more senior managers and executives when they are brought in, and certainly from the outside.
• More routine positions, managerial or not – versus – special skills and experience new hires and employees, hands-on or managerial.
• Job candidates and new hires and employees who reached out to the business, applying as discussed up to here in this narrative on their own initiative – versus – those who the business has reached out to, to at least attempt to bring them in-house as special hires and as special for all that would follow.
• And to round out this list, I will add one more entry here, doing so by citing one specific and specifically freighted word: nepotism.

I am going to at least begin addressing this list of variations on the baseline model as outlined here in my next series installment. Then, as promised in Part 18 at its end, I will explicitly discuss promotions, and both as carried out strictly in-house and as arise de facto from strategically moving on to work for a new employer where suitable job openings are not and cannot be available where an employee works now. In anticipation of that, I add here that I will frame this flow of discussion, at least in significant part in terms of two behavioral dynamics:

• A focus on the potential negatives of change and of the unknown, and a focus on the positive possibilities of change and an embrace of the new and at least in-part unknown, as job and career strategy-shaping presumptions arise and are followed through upon, and
• The potential for alignment and for discord when different stakeholder participants in a business interaction pursue different game theory strategies as they each attempt to reach their own goals.

One of my goals for this posting has been to widen the perspective that this would all be thought in terms of, where for example my discussion here of businesses as overlapping and dynamically changing systems of stakeholder networks, affects how those two bullet points would be considered. I will expand upon this more general understanding in discussion to come too.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material about what I am attempting to do here at About this Blog and at Blogs and Marketing. And I include this series in my Reexamining the Fundamentals directory, as topics section VI there, where I offer related material regarding theory-based systems. And I also include this individual participant oriented subseries of this overall theory of business series in Page 3 of my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, as a sequence of supplemental postings there.

Career planning 20: career planning while navigating change and uncertainty 2

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on November 26, 2017

This is my 20th installment to a series in which I seek to break open what can become a hidden workings, self-imposed black box construct of career strategy and planning, where it can be easy to drift into what comes next rather than execute to realize what could be best for us (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 459 and following for Parts 1-19.)

I began this series with an initial, orienting discussion of career planning tools and approaches that I have found useful in my own work life and its planning, and that I have shared with others over the years. Then I turned from that, beginning in Part 7, to consider change and how it is redefining work and the workplace, and employability and employment as well. And most of my subsequent discussion in this series has focused on disruptive change in this, and on its cumulative impact. Then I began to turn back to consider career planning tools and approaches in Part 19. And my goal here is to continue that posting’s narrative, which I begin doing by repeating a point from it that I would build from:

• “Embrace change that takes place around you, by adapting new ways and new understandings of what you do, that become possible and that can offer positive value because of those changes.”

I ended Part 19 by stating that:

• “No one can effectively plan forward from where they are now, if they do not genuinely know where they are now that they would have to plan and execute from.”

I at least begin to address that here by more fully considering how disruptive change emerges and takes form and develops, at least as it first comes into effective and meaningful focus. My orientation in that is essentially entirely on how this type of emerging phenomenon impacts upon the workplace, and how the impact of such change spreads out to affect more and more types of work as it does. But first let’s consider this emergence itself.

Where and how does disruptive change first emerge? A succinct answer to that would be “in an initially limited context,” where a new and emerging innovation might only have immediate and direct impact upon the business that first created it, and in the niche market of pioneer and early adaptors who chose to buy into it as it first comes out. This would particularly hold true for completely novel, potentially game changing innovations, but it might even at least initially hold true for disruptive innovations that could potentially meet long-known and long-unaddressed needs too, at least until it has proven itself. Then initial success, and particularly where somewhat later (but still early) adaptors start buying in, would make this meaningful and significantly so for direct competitors to that starting point inventing business too. They would now know that this innovation was not simply a fad or gimmick, and that it in fact might even represent a direct challenge to them and particularly as it has begun to capture and even create market share. And if such an innovation really takes off, it can be expected that this would cause its range of impact to grow and even explosively, and both for manufacturers and for direct-to-market providers (e.g. wholesale and retail stores), and for marketplaces and the consumers who comprise them. But the first real impact in all of this would be small, at least until an innovation has proven itself as offering at least a measure of real and sustainable value. And impact would grow from there.

Consider the internet in this context, with its small initial reach. The tools and resources needed to tap into this new form of information sharing were few and daunting to use. Not many people had or used personal computers at that time and certainly outside of work, and those early devices were all primarily geared towards people who would be comfortable programming computers with their command line interfaces. The nascent internet-specific software tools that were initially available were very limited and they were much less than user friendly for those who attempted to use them. And the only reason why the challenges of searching online to find anything specific, were not a lot worse than they were at this point in history was that there was so very little available to search for online, with primitive messaging and file sharing constituting the vast majority of what was even possible to find and access there.

What happened? Those who were able to tap into this new capability found real value in it, and this created pressure to make this newly forming internet both easier to use and richer in content. Their interest created a market for that. And as a result, several types of change began taking place at once that would address these now-perceived needs, and the business opportunities that they represented for whoever could best meet them: each such change driven by concurrent advancement of the others as values created, combined synergistically. Computers became more and more powerful and less and less expensive and certainly for what they could do, and certainly when the graphical user interface first came out and people at least had the option of dispensing with that command line interface so they could focus on what they were trying to do and not on the mechanics of how they would do it. The advent of the World Wide Web and web browser-oriented content and functionality changed everything too, and so did the development of more and more effective online search tools. And the more all of those internet users began to tap into this emerging capability and use that growing resource, the more competitive pressure there was for others to join in too, with later and later adaptors starting to explore and use the internet too. And networking speed began to significantly increase as this was all taking place, and the cost to connect began to significantly drop as well.

I am offering a very simplistic accounting of a very complex historical narrative here, and I freely admit that the actual timelines involved there were more complex than indicated here. But my intent in this is simply to at least briefly explain some of the underlying dynamics that palpably came into play in all of this: here for the internet but for disruptive innovation and its advancement per se.

Innovation and certainly successful disruptive innovation can be synergistically additive, with effective change both enabling and even actively driving next step change. But not all innovation fits that pattern.

• Win-lose innovations: disruptive ones included are by their very nature self-limiting and do not serve as launching points for next round innovation and disruptive innovation. They do not actively create incentive for other developers to build from because they are so limited in where and how they create value that can serve as a launching point for further development.

Consider the non-disclosure agreements and their recent rampant proliferation as discussed in this series as a case in point example there, where push back and resistance to it is all but certain to roll much of that back, making this example an eventual historical curiosity more than anything else (see for example, Part 10 and Part 11.)

• Win-win innovations, on the other hand, do create development opportunity for new innovation: new disruptive innovation included. And they can and often do create new business sectors if not entire new industries as a result, and new types of work opportunities in the process.

And the internet and its history exemplify that, with the most powerful and far reaching businesses on Earth, now firmly grounded in the online experience and in fact only possible because of that and certainly as they are formed now. To take that out of the abstract, consider businesses such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, as well as emerging giants such as Baidu in China.

This expansion of collective reach and impact and for businesses large and small, is based upon innovation and its effective adaptation. And it in turn facilitates further innovative and disruptive innovative advancement. And the term “creative destruction” comes to mind as I write that, because this means both opening up new opportunity, and closing off old as that at least comes to be perceived to be more obsolete than anything else. And that point brings me directly back to the issues of employment and employability.

• Where and how is innovation in its perhaps still beginning stage already impacting on businesses and the markets that they serve?
• What areas of work and what skills and experience sets are now coming into demand because of this for those businesses, and what ones might be losing their perceived value and significance to those employers as they retool and reorganize towards this New?
• And for a third big and even pivotal question that I would focus upon here: what directions if any, do these dislocations seem to be moving in as the impact and reach of this innovation begins to spread out and expand and both within its initial industry and sector and to others that would pick up on it?

You can safely assume that any skill or experience set that an innovation has already made more vulnerable in one industry or sector, will become at least as vulnerable and career limiting in others too, as a once new and still forming innovation really takes hold and across wider and wider business and marketplace communities. And the questions and issues of workplace and skills set dependencies enter into this here too.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment, starting with three bullet points just offered above and the points raised in the last paragraph before this. And after completing that phase of this overall discussion, I am going to turn back to the issue of specific career planning and development tools and approaches again, that can be applied hands-on in building a work life that more fully meets your needs.

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.

Career planning 19: career planning while navigating change and uncertainty 1

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on November 14, 2017

This is my 19th installment to a series in which I seek to break open what can become a hidden workings, self-imposed black box construct of career strategy and planning, where it can be easy to drift into what comes next rather than execute to realize what could be best for us (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 459 and following for Parts 1-18.)

I have taken what might be seen as a dual-focus approach in developing and writing this series, which I explicitly began addressing as such, early on in it:

• The inextricably connected issues of career planning and development in this rapidly emerging 21st century,
• And the ongoing emergence of a veritable flood of disruptive change and of all sorts that we are going through, that has come to fundamentally redefine what it means to be employable and employed.

I began this series with a briefly stated and more general set of opening notes on basic tools and approaches for planning out a career path. But after setting a stage with that for what would follow, I have been focusing in this series on change and on clarifying and analyzing the challenges and opportunities that we are all coming to face from it, and in our work and careers and in our lives. And then at end of Part 18, I switched directions back to that of career development tools and approaches again, by posing a basic, and even fundamental set of questions, which I repeat here as a starting point for what is to follow:

• How can we better navigate our way through all of this uncertainty and in ways that will maximize our chances of achieving a meaningful, fulfilling career path and work life?
• And how can we find our way through this jumble to assemble for ourselves and for our families, a more stable and meaningful path forward in it, and one that can help us to better prepare for our post-work life and retirement too?

If I were going to offer a single, quickly stated response to both of those questions, at least as a starting point in addressing them, it would be:

• Embrace change, and seek out ways to make it work for you.

That means acknowledging that change is happening and with all of the uncertainly and all of the at least potential for creating apprehension that it can bring with it. And it means approaching all of these changes: the more disruptive of them included, that are taking place around you, in ways that would limit their risk creating limitations as you move forward, while enhancing their new value creating opportunities.

Let me clarify what I mean there by noting that many if not most of the potential negatives of change, and certainly where those changes are not entirely win-lose in nature, fall on workplace and career options that may have held positive value for us in the past, but that cannot be adapted to new and emerging circumstances. So I reframe my initial response as offered in the above bullet point and the brief paragraph that follows it with:

• Embrace change that takes place around you, by adapting new ways and new understandings of what you do, that become possible and that can offer positive value because of those changes.

The key to this is in approaching your job and workplace and the job market and the contexts that they take place in, with open eyes and an open and acknowledging mind. Let me take that out of the abstract with a specific change example that too many of us are familiar with from direct personal experience, and one that is disruptive to those who face it even if it is not generally considered to be a disruptively novel change per se: layoffs.

When people are swept up in them, and find themselves facing and going through a termination of employment meeting stemming from that, their perhaps commonest first emotional response is often something like sickened surprise. But as the first shock passes as to what is happening and what has just happened, it is essentially just as common to find oneself thinking back to the fact that as much as this might have been a shock when it happened, it was not completely 100% unexpected either; there were at least some signs that this might happen – that seemed to be more comfortable to ignore at the time.

Keeping your eyes and your mind open to the possibilities is not always easy and particularly when the first possibilities that you might see coming are more disturbing from the unknowns and uncertainties involved, than they are comforting for the potential positives that they might bring too. But ultimately, turning a blind eye to what might be coming can only tip the balance away from you’re in any way gaining maximum benefit that you can derive from change. Blindness to what is happening when change is approaching just leaves you blindsided by it and unprepared for whatever potential negatives or positives that this change might bring.

So I start this second phase to my more prescriptive accounting of how to plan for and carry out a desired career path and work life by explicitly stressing what should be a most obvious point, that is all too often never actually acknowledged when it would be of greatest importance to us in our work and career planning:

• The imperative that we unflinchingly face change and in both its positive and negative potentials, and that we seek out ways of embracing it and in ways that can help us navigate the uncertainties it brings.

No one can effectively plan forward from where they are now, if they do not genuinely know where they are now that they would have to plan and execute from. I begin this next phase of this series with that, and with knowing what your starting point is so you can better plan your next steps and move towards them. I am going to continue this narrative in a next series discussion from that point and with a goal of discussing tools and approaches for identifying and understanding next steps and particularly the very first ones that you might take as you see change and disruptive change coming.

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.

Career planning 18: career planning as an ongoing process of analysis and synthesis 12

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on November 2, 2017

This is my 18th installment to a series in which I seek to break open what can become a hidden workings, self-imposed black box construct of career strategy and planning, where it can be easy to drift into what comes next rather than execute to realize what could be best for us (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 459 and following for Parts 1-17.)

This, more specifically, is a series on career planning in a rapidly emerging 21st century context where an ongoing flow of fundamental disruptive change is coming to redefine both the workplace and what it means to hold a job and be employable. So I have at least briefly introduced and discussed a series of disruptive changes, in communications and information management technologies, in business practices and in regulatory and related legally framed factors that are coming to fundamentally impact upon work lives and careers, as well as everything else in our lives (see Part 14 and following in particular here.)

Then at the end of Part 17 I stated that I would continue in this installment, from that line of discussion with its focus on individual sources of disruptive change, by at least beginning to address the issues raised there:

• “From a more local versus global perspective. And in anticipation of that, I note that I will frame that line of discussion at least in part in terms of the global flattening that Thomas Friedman has written of in his books and papers, and the wrinkle-creating pushback that this has also led to. And as this is a series about career planning and development, I will frame this line of discussion in terms of its impact upon both the larger scale of national and local economies and the businesses and markets that enter into them, and the level of the individual consumers and employees who find themselves caught up in these dynamics.”

That, of necessity, means addressing change and disruptive change as a whole, where we do not in fact simply face these emerging events one at a time, ever.

Let’s begin addressing that point and the complex of issues raised in the above bullet point, by reconsidering two of the key words that I began that to-address bullet point with: “local” and “global.” The distinction between those two terms and what they stood for, used to be very clear cut and certainly in a jobs and workplace context. People would seek out work opportunities that were physically located near where they live and near where their children go to school – in or near their own geographically local home community. And for most of us a commute to work of over an hour’s duration would qualify as long and significantly so. Local meant physically, geographically local and work was by its very nature one of the key expressions of what it meant to live and function locally in our lives. And global was a diametrically opposed opposite of that.

Simple physical locality still holds basically the same meaning as it did then, but the distinctions between local and regional and even between local and global have significantly blurred: functionally and when activity and connectivity are considered. And this means that the distinction between those once diametrically opposed points of distinction: local and global have blurred and certainly for the functionally connecting activity of work and business where increasingly ubiquitously available broad bandwidth internet connectivity makes communications sharing from anywhere to anywhere essentially instantaneous, and where goods can be shipped from anywhere to anywhere so quickly and inexpensively now.

This blurring between local and global obviously holds where the internet, with its impact on business processes and in trade and commerce, is considered. Telecommuting, and the capacity of businesses to be real-time connected and even at globally reaching distances, are becoming the new norm and only represent two aspects of a larger more widely reaching and connecting shift, that I have just scratched the surface of with my few disruptive change examples as touched upon in this series.

I have touched upon the issues that I have turned to in this posting, and at least some of their more immediate consequences on a large and growing number of occasions in the course of writing this blog. But up to now I have primarily focused in that, on the impact of change on businesses themselves, and on individuals as they hold and perform at specific jobs with those enterprises. I turn here to consider the longer-term impact of this ongoing flow of disruptive change, as it synergistically builds up over the years and over the course of a career path.

• Change is the one stable and reliable constant that we can rely on in this century of transition, and certainly for any foreseeable years to come from when I write this.

I have written of how we can all expect to make both job changes and career changes over the course of our work lives, and even many times. That is what has motivated my writing and offering series here such as:

• Bringing the Job Market and Marketplace into Focus (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development , postings 89-102),
• Many of the series in Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2 and certainly in its second half, and
• Developing a Career Out of Gigs and Short-Term Work (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 368-375).

I have written of how likely it is that we will find ourselves working in fields and with skills that did not even exist when we first began our work lives – and certainly by the time we finally retire. And this brings me to the fundamental question and the fundamental challenge. How can we better navigate our way through all of this uncertainty and in ways that will maximize our chances of achieving a meaningful, fulfilling career path and work life? How do we find our way through the jumble of change and its attendant uncertainty, to assemble for ourselves and for our families a more stable and meaningful path forward in this, and one that can help us prepare for our post-work life and retirement too, as well as for our immediate here-and-now?

I am going to at least begin to address those questions, and possible answers to them in the next installment to this series. 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.

Postscript: I cited Thomas Friedman and his writings in this posting, without actually offering any references to those works there, so I add references to three of his here-relevant books here to address that gap in what I offer here:

• Friedman, T.L. (2007 edition) The World Is Flat. Picador/Farrar, Straus and Giroux. New York. (The first edition of this initially came out in 2005 but I cite here its revised and updated edition.)
• Friedman, T.L. (2008) Hot, Flat and Crowded: why we need a green revolution – and how it can renew America. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. New York. (Available through this link as a free full text PDF download.)
• Friedman, T.L. (2016) Thank You for Being Late: an optimist’s guide to thriving in the age of accelerations. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. New York.

Career planning 17: career planning as an ongoing process of analysis and synthesis 11

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on October 21, 2017

This is my 17th installment to a series in which I seek to break open what can become a hidden workings, self-imposed black box construct of career strategy and planning, where it can be easy to drift into what comes next rather than execute to realize what could be best for us (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 459 and following for Parts 1-16.)

I have been discussing disruptive change as it is reshaping the 21st century workplace, and what it is coming to mean to hold a job and to be employable, since Part 14 of this series, focusing on five change examples, with the fifth of them added in, in Part 16:

1. Non-compete clauses in hiring and employment agreements,
2. Automation and the spread of artificial intelligence and robotization into the workplace,
3. Telecommuting and the emerging capabilities for people and for businesses to conduct work online and from anywhere to anywhere,
4. The workplace impact of the cloud on the first three sources of change that I make note of here, and
5. The changing field of regulatory oversight, and particularly as this impacts upon workers’ right and obligations and on the issues of employability in an increasingly globally interconnected context.

I concluded Part 16 with a note in anticipation of what I would address next in this series, which I repeat in part here as a starting point for this posting’s discussion:

• “Let’s step back to reconsider change that would impact on employability in more general terms again, and how regulatory and other factors external to the business collectively help shape them. I am going to delve into that in my next series installment, addressing interaction issues.”

And I added that I would offer one more source of disruptive change to the above list, in addressing those issues. I have in fact decided to add two more here:

6. The emergence of the lean and agile business model as an increasingly important strategic and operational approach, and one that will become essential for seemingly all types of businesses in our increasingly globally interconnected and globally competing markets.
7. And the role of big data in all of this and particularly as it becomes both a viable, and an essential option for businesses everywhere. That, I add is happening through a combination of cloud storage and access to ever-larger amounts of raw business intelligence, and from within a business and as acquired from the outside, and inexpensive, cost effective access to analytical software such as statistical analysis and modeling software that is provided on a software as service basis by third party providers.

I could add more to this list, but will leave adding to it at that and with a simple summarizing declaration:

• Any disruptively novel change in either business practices or processes, or in the technology that shapes and enables them, or in the legal or regulatory framework that they take place in, has to be expected to impact on jobs and on the issues of employability too, by redefining and reshaping at least some critical aspect of what businesses do and need to do, and how the people who work there would do that.
• And we are going through a period of societal transition, and of global transition where fundamental change of this sort has become what amounts to a reliable ongoing constant.

But I step back from that higher level perspective here, to more fully consider one particular source of disruptive change that I began delving into in Part 16, and that I stated that I would return to here, by name, as a starting point for further discussion: regulatory oversight and control. As a perhaps more bottom line point of orientation for what I would argue here, I suggest that the range of impact of regulatory oversight can be vast but it is still limited, and particularly when differing legal jurisdictions that would define and enforce it, each representing their own local economies and business sectors, balance what they do in that arena as a source of relative advantage, as their differing economies compete with each other. And I begin addressing all of that with the fundamentals, by noting that:

• Some changes of the type addressed in this series can be legislatively remediated and even fundamentally limited, at least with time, such as the overuse of non-competes, and
• Some of these changes cannot be effectively legislatively controlled and certainly not long-term, such as automation as driven by the proliferation and advancement of artificial intelligence and robotization technologies. Ultimately, those who seek to block these types of change legislatively or through regulatory oversight and control, can only limit their own economies as others find progressively more effective ways to implement them. So the most they can effectively do is to put in safeguards to at least secure a more level playing field for all stakeholders impacted upon by these changes.
• In game theory terms, the more fundamental changes that would follow more of a win-lose strategic approach would follow more the pattern of the first bullet point of this list, while potentially more win-win changes would come to follow the pattern of the second.
• Then there are changes that are going to prove historically self-limiting such as outsourcing. Focusing on that example here, outsourcing as a process essentially self-limits for countries that it moves jobs to, as it compels the introduction of new skills and higher and more valuable levels of worker experience and throughout job markets and economies. This means systematically increased overall employee value there, and increased pressures and expectations where those jobs are shipped, toward higher and more expensive standards of living for all of those now-more highly trained and experienced people. Quite simply, the people who learn and grow professionally from this, come to have more employment choices, as more and more businesses try moving in, to benefit from what they can now offer. And this has come to hold true wherever outsourcing per se has brought new jobs to. So outsourced production and service and all of the jobs they would bring with them move on again and again and as long as new workplace communities can be found that would at least start out demanding lower compensation levels, limiting personnel costs. (This change, and pattern of change is self-limiting and that is why I did not include outsourcing in my above list, and only make note of it here. It is disruptive, but it is also fundamentally transient in nature too.)

To take that last parenthetical assertion out of the abstract, I cite a recent news story that is particularly telling:

Hot Spot for Tech Outsourcing: The United States.

This news piece is about jobs that were once outsourced out of the United States, and that have now been re-outsourced back there again as the balance of technological base in place and its costs and benefits, and personnel costs and related factors have shifted over time to nullify any value from “traditional” outsourcing per se. Not only can outsourcing move work on to new lower-labor cost communities and economies: it can create incentives to ship them back to where they originally came from too, as benefit balances from their relocation keep shifting.

Where and how would regulatory oversight best play out there? Changes that are long-term self limiting such as outsourcing can still be very disruptive while taking place, and while still actively in play. And effective regulatory oversight and legislative protections can limit, at least a significant measure of the possible disruptive downsides that their implementation can bring.

• For another essentially self-limiting example, consider corporate inversions and headquarters relocations here, as representing more than just a means of corporate tax liability reduction. Wider aspects of corporate law can apply there too, in driving these relocations, with employment and employee rights laws included there, and with shifts in what a business does and seeks to do as a whole, entering into this as well. Nations that start out with more business-friendly corporate laws in place can and do change, and their standards there tend to become higher in how they demand corporate responsibility, and towards their employees as much as in any other way.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment, where I will at least begin to more fully address the issues that I have been raising here, from a more local versus global perspective. And in anticipation of that, I note that I will frame that line of discussion at least in part in terms of the global flattening that Thomas Friedman has written of in his books and papers, and the wrinkle-creating pushback that this has also led to. And as this is a series about career planning and development, I will frame this line of discussion in terms of its impact upon both the larger scale of national and local economies and the businesses and markets that enter into them, and the level of the individual consumers and employees who find themselves caught up in these dynamics. 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.

Some thoughts concerning a general theory of business 18: considering first steps toward developing a general theory of business 10

This is my 18th installment to a series on general theories of business, and on what general theory means as a matter of underlying principle and in this specific context (see Reexamining the Fundamentals directory, Section VI for Parts 1-17.)

I began addressing one side to a commonly encountered workplace dynamic in Part 17, which I restate here for purposes of narrative continuity:

• Beginning, with the individual job seeker and career developer, and the hiring and promotion-directed strategies that they follow when seeking out a new job opportunity,
• And ending with the approaches that those same individuals follow when actually working at a business after achieving their next step goals in this.
• And as part of that, I will also consider the strategies and the tactics of others who work with them or who otherwise become stakeholders to these transaction flows (games.) This obviously has to include the hiring manager who would act as gatekeeper in bringing or not bringing them into this business as a new hire, and I will at least start discussing their role here when addressing the issues of the would-be employee themselves, but it of necessity also has to include a wide range of other stakeholders as well. And I will address them and their issues here too, in this series.

I said that I would address this list of issues, starting at the top, from the perspectives of both the would-be hire, and then ongoing in-house employee, and from that of the hiring manager who in most cases becomes their workplace supervisor once they are brought in and onboarded as an employee. I would treat in-house promotions in this sense as in-house hirings, and certainly when those seeking promotion do so in competition with would-be hires from the outside. But setting that specific case scenario aside for the moment, I said that I would address all of this from both the new hands-on non-managerial employee perspective, and the new-hire manager perspective as well. And as just repeated, I said that I would at least begin to discuss all of this from the perspective of a wider range of stakeholders who would be affected here too and from the interviewing process on.

I began all of this in Part 17, focusing on the pre-hire job candidate and the hiring manager who eventually selects them and offers them a job. And I finished that installment at the point of hire, stating that I would continue from there in this posting from day one as a new in-house employee, and how perspectives change and for both the new hire and for their manager and for other stakeholders involved there.

• When a would-be employee, seeking a new job applies for work, they essentially always arrive as largely unknown commodities for consideration, and for all details as to who they are and what they are like to work with and regarding how well they work, that cannot be captured in a resume or cover letter, or in brief and highly choreographed interviews. And given the dynamics of the hiring process and certainly as they are shaped by the flood of often largely irrelevant resume submissions sent out en mass to all hiring businesses, the basic goal from the hiring side in this is largely one of weeding out and eliminating wrong candidates, and not on finding reasons to hire what might be good ones (see Part 17 for a more detailed discussion of background issues relevant to this assertion,)
• There are exceptions to that more general approach of course, and certainly when a business specifically seeks out a particular possible new hire, who they might even court to try to entice them away from a current employer. But this is the basic pattern for all who send their resumes in on their own initiative, in response for example to online jobs postings.
• When a business does hire: when a hiring manager agrees to hire a particular job candidate, making that commitment on behalf of their employer and on behalf of the team they supervise that this new hire would join, the dynamics of this shift, and certainly as that new hire successfully completes their (usually at least approximately) 90 day probationary period, during which time they could be dismissed without a need for well argued justifying cause. Now the basic default is not to find justification not to have this person on payroll as an employee: it is to justify keeping them on and certainly if they do not behave in a manner that would make that explicitly untenable.
• A less than fully successful employee might never get a promotion, or a raise that goes beyond any required cost of living or related pay increases. And they might be among the first out of the door in the event of a downsizing, where dismissal would take place absent any onus of poor performance. But absent more special circumstance processes such as downsizings, an employee who at least meets their basic performance goals in their ongoing performance reviews is likely to stay on there, unless they choose to leave – or unless their job requirements and those of all others in their job category are changed in ways that they cannot even minimally successfully perform at.

All of these are business decisions that at least formally, ostensibly come from the business as an organizational whole and in accordance with its policies and practices as generally understood and carried out. But all of these decisions and actions are made and carried out by individuals who are balancing their own needs and their own agendas and their own workplace contexts in shaping them, as well as attempting to meet overall business needs as they individually perceive and understand them. And this includes addressing the needs and the desires and intentions of the people they report to and those of other stakeholders as well, and certainly where they wield power and influence in the business hierarchy and its networks of alliances that are in place.

Note that “business hierarchy” as used above, need not follow a simple linear, top-down command and control pattern, and many businesses disperse such authority and influence through more complex networks in actual practice, and even when the basic systems in place are presented as being top-down organized and run (e.g. as would be found in a military command structure as a perhaps extreme case in point example.) There, to pick up on that example, young Lieutenants would be foolish at the very least to not listen to their more experienced noncoms as sources of long-term experience and insight. Even good senior officers know when to listen to highly experienced, high ranking noncommissioned officers who in official practice report to them.

What I am doing here in this posting, is to at least briefly and selectively discuss the dynamics of agreement and of conflict, and connect and disconnect between the individual participant in these systems, and the overall organization and its needs and intent, as are variously understood throughout the business. And in that, and to repeat a point already made in this series, at least in passing, all of those individuals who work in that business, do so and see and understand “their” business from the perspectives of their own jobs and responsibilities there, and their day-to-day functional and organizational positions there.

I am going to continue this line of discussion in a next series installment where I will continue to flesh out the new hire to in-house employee transition scenario and start to more fully address the issues that a wider range of stakeholders bring to this transitional process. And I will explicitly discuss how all of this plays out (think game theory there) for non-managerial and for managerial level employees, executives included. And I will also, over the course of the next several installments, explicitly discuss promotions and both as carried out strictly in-house and as arise de facto from strategically moving on to work for a new employer where suitable job openings are not and cannot be available where an employee works now. In anticipation of that, I add here that I will frame this flow of discussion, at least in significant part in terms of two behavioral dynamics:

• Fear of the potential negatives of change and of the unknown, and focus on the positive possibilities of change and an embrace of the new and at least in-part unknown, as those job and career strategy-shaping presumptions arise and are followed and
• The potential for alignment and for discord when different stakeholder participants in a business interaction pursue different game theory strategies as they each attempt to reach their own goals.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material about what I am attempting to do here at About this Blog and at Blogs and Marketing. And I include this series in my Reexamining the Fundamentals directory, as topics section VI there, where I offer related material regarding theory-based systems. And I also include this individual participant oriented subseries of this overall theory of business series in Page 3 of my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, as a sequence of supplemental postings there.

Career planning 16: career planning as an ongoing process of analysis and synthesis 10

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on October 9, 2017

This is my 16th installment to a series in which I seek to break open what can become a hidden workings, self-imposed black box construct of career strategy and planning, where it can be easy to drift into what comes next rather than execute to realize what could be best for us (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 459 and following for Parts 1-15.)

I have been discussing a set of four sources of disruptive change in the workplace in recent postings to this series, that all significantly impact on employment and even on the meaning of employability (see Part 14 and Part 15.) And for purposes of increased continuity of narrative here, I repeat them as offered in Part 15:

1. Non-compete clauses in hiring and employment agreements,
2. Automation and the spread of artificial intelligence and robotization into the workplace,
3. Telecommuting and the emerging capabilities for people and for businesses to conduct work online and from anywhere to anywhere, and
4. The workplace impact of the cloud on all three of the other sources of change that I make note of here.

Then at the end of Part 15, I stated that I would continue its line of discussion here, where I would:

• Expand the set of specific disruptive changes under specific discussion in all of this, and
• Address these issues in timeframe and related contexts as viewed from the individual participant perspective.

I at least begin this, by adding a fifth fundamental source of change into this narrative, that like the above restated fourth change: the advent of the cloud, impacts upon and shapes all of the others here listed:

• Legally mandated and enforced regulatory oversight and its case law history as that shapes how regulatory rules are interpreted and enforced.

And I begin addressing this, by noting that regulatory oversight, and particularly as explicitly mandated and enforced by weight of law, is probably the furthest reaching and the most impactful of all of the change drivers that I have been addressing here, and particularly:

• When businesses increasingly do business across national boundaries and even globally,
• And when at least one of the legal jurisdictions involved, is actively and even proactively regulatory in its approach to managing a level playing field.

This state of affairs is quickly becoming the new norm, in an increasingly globally interconnected day-to-day business context. And this certainly holds true from an employment and employability perspective when telecommuting and similar options can mean people working from anywhere to anywhere. Legally mandated workplace and employment regulatory protections offered in one locale, can and will impact upon businesses in others too – and certainly across international borders.

Let me start addressing that with a seemingly unrelated example that applies strictly within a single nation: the United States, but that can be seen as representing a somewhat developed-in-practice role model for what we can expect to see emerging in a workplace and employability context. And the example that I would cite here is the State of California’s legally mandated definition of what it means for food to be organic, as specified by the US federal government’s Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, and the California Organic Products Act of 2003.

The California standard for designating food as organic is one of the most stringently demanding and far-reaching in the United States. And California’s position as a leading grower and provider of fresh produce nationally – and a leading consumer of food products from its population size, means that its definitions and its regulatory requirements, have impact that extends way beyond its state borders. People in other states and even in other nations who buy California organic, know what that means and they come to demand the same quality control levels for food produced in their own states and their own legal jurisdictions too, and even outside of the United States itself. And growers who operate outside of California face pressures to conform to those standards too, and certainly if they seek to ship their products to that state and with an organic designation. California’s approach to defining organic food, has become the gold standard and the benchmark that others have come to use in defining and enforcing food quality control elsewhere too. Their clout and reach in agriculture has made that all but inevitable, and certainly given their pro-consumer position in this.

Let’s consider how the basic principles there, might be applied to an employment and employability context. And I begin with my first change driver from the above list: non-compete clauses and agreements. And I start by repeating a point that I have already made in this blog in regard to that terms of employment approach, and by citing a recent news story that I have made note of in other series. Even just within the United States, different states with their separate laws and case law records, approach non-competes differently from each other. See:

Noncompete Pacts, Under Siege, Find Haven in Idaho

Idaho’s state legislature, as influenced by “pro-business” lobbyists, have pushed through some of the most draconian anti-employee legislation in the United States for enforcing non-compete clauses in hiring and job retention agreements. If would-be employees could not move out of state to find new opportunity, and current and former employees couldn’t move out of state either, and if the job market was, and was always going to favor employers with many more qualified applicants for any given type of work opportunity than there are positions open for that work, and as the basic rule and for all types of jobs, then this might mean Idaho employers gaining and holding a stable advantage in employer/employee negotiations there. Add to that, enforceable barriers against telecommuting and against court challenges and either within-state or beyond as would arise through appeals to higher courts. But none of those qualifiers can be relied upon and certainly not long-term and definitely not for the types of positions that employers might more legitimately need that type of protection for. Like organic produce, job availability faces porous borders and competitive pressures that can and do cross them too.

And I stress here that even when employees and would-be employees cannot realistically cost-effectively and affordably move, at least for securing lower level and lower overall pay jobs, this type of measure still creates real instability for those employers, as the experience of looser and less restrictive laws in other jurisdictions shapes employee expectations and even in the heart of a state like Idaho itself. Loose and lax and even effectively nonexistent regulatory law governing and restricting use of non-competes can be challenged in court, and effectively changed in legal decision and in case law precedent moving forward. And the more win-lose and anti-competitive it is the more likely it is that that will happen.

So flipping around a basic point of conclusion that I made late in Part 15:

• The more win-lose a terms of employment change is as a business practice, the more unstable it is going to prove for the businesses that come to rely upon it,
• And the greater the resultant risk it will create for them for doing so, as reactive change developed in response to it can break it, and certainly as currently pursued, and with all of the direct cost and all of the indirect cost (e.g. bad publicity) that this would create.

With that stated and argued, let’s step back to reconsider change that would impact on employability in more general terms again, and how regulatory and other factors external to the business collectively help shape them. I am going to delve into that in my next series installment, addressing interaction issues. And in anticipation of that, I note here that I will add in one more fundamentally important emerging source of change to this narrative:

• The emergence of the lean and agile business model as an increasingly important strategic and operational approach, and one that will become essential for seemingly all types of businesses in our increasingly globally interconnected and globally competing markets.

I have been writing in positive terms of lean and agile businesses for a long time now in this blog. And in anticipation of discussion to come here, note as a starting point for that, that the lean and agile business model does offer both risk and positive opportunity in an employment and employability context. But capturing the positive opportunity in this change, means embracing its possibilities and in some specific types of ways; it means planning and developing career paths in terms of an explicitly lean change-driven business model. I will discuss all of this, at least in part in terms of timeframes too.

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.

Career planning 15: career planning as an ongoing process of analysis and synthesis 9

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on September 27, 2017

This is my 15th installment to a series in which I seek to break open what can become a hidden workings, self-imposed black box construct of career strategy and planning, where it can be easy to drift into what comes next rather than execute to realize what could be best for us (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 459 and following for Parts 1-14.)

I have in recent installments to this series, been discussing and analyzing a set of four distinct and crucially important disruptive changes that have been reshaping the workplace and the meanings of employment and employability (see Part 14):

1. Non-compete clauses in hiring and employment agreements,
2. Automation and the spread of artificial intelligence and robotization into the workplace,
3. Telecommuting and the emerging capabilities for people and for businesses to conduct work online and from anywhere to anywhere, and
4. The workplace impact of the cloud on all three of the other sources of change that I make note of here.

And I have primarily addressed them from an in-house and a within-business perspective. My goal here is to switch directions and at least begin to consider them from the wider context of a business’ functionally significant outside context too. More specifically, I stated at the end of Part 14 that I would:

• Turn this discussion more outward to consider how these changes and their impacts are shaped by factors arising outside of the business in question.
• And after that, I added, I will discuss how these factors and forces (and from both within and from outside of a business) would impact upon work and career planning there, in identifying and charting best paths forward.

In anticipation of that, I noted that “disruptive” in disruptive change means “uncertainty”, so flexibility and awareness are essential there. I also added that I will expand the set of specific disruptive changes under specific discussion in all of this, as I proceed from here in this series. And I added that I will address these issues in timeframe and related contexts as viewed from the individual participant perspective.

But I begin all of this by turning outward from the level and orientation of the individual business that enters into disruptive change, to consider its impact and on both the business and the individual people who work there. And I begin that by asking two fundamental, but easily overlooked questions:

• Where do these changes come from?
• And perhaps more importantly, how can they be shaped for their forms and impacts, and both by individual people and individual businesses and societally, and in ways that would lessen possible adverse impact for those caught up in them?

These questions might not matter as much for win-win creating changes such as the above listed Change 3 with its widening of the workplace, but they become vitally important for more win-lose scenario changes, such as the non-compete clause proliferation of Change 1 and for workplace automation: Change 2.

Where do these changes come from? They all come in large part, if not in their entirety from the outside, and not just for individual career developers, but for the businesses they would consider working for, and for the industries they would work in too. And they arrive at the workplace door in forms that individual businesses and even entire industries can have surprisingly little control over.

Let’s consider the four test case disruptive changes under consideration here, in order offered above as test cases in evaluating the relevance of that assertion. And I begin with the above-repeated Change 1: non-compete clauses.

Businesses can choose to use or avoid use of non-compete clauses and they can decide where they would use them if they do at all, in their overall systems. They can decide what types of employees with what types of skills and experience, in their business or in general, would call for this type of protective measure on their part. But the non-compete clause, or the more stand-alone non-compete agreement is a legal document that has to be framed in accordance with relevant societally-based law in place, and any relevant case law there too, that would interpret it and place constraints on its use. And the more such agreements are used and the wider the range of workplace and job-type contexts that they are applied to, the more likely it becomes that court challenge and new case law would arise that would undermine and fundamentally change those agreements and what they can cover and enforce. All of this arises outside of the individual business that might seek to use non-competes in their hiring and terms of employment agreements, but it would impact upon any business that deploys them and certainly when they use them more generally and in ways that might be construed as being “in restraint of trade,” to cite the key wording of the Sherman Antitrust Act – which I cite here as a de facto urtext of the legislated business and economic open playing field, as unencumbered by contrived barriers to fair competition.

As for Change 2: even businesses that actively develop automated systems and artificial intelligence resources, can at most just incrementally advance and shape the overall disruptive change that these synergistically connected technologies are bringing. And similar points can be raised with regard to Changes 3 and 4 here too. But the limits that individual businesses face in being able to shape these changes, and even as they would implement them in-house, only represent one side to the basic dynamic that I would make note of here and in their contexts:

• The more win-win enabling the disruptive change under consideration, the greater the all-around stability and advantage it will confer on businesses that enter into it,
• And the more businesses that do enter into it, the greater the pressure will be for later adaptors to jump onboard and adapt to it too.

I am not writing here of love of new and different and of innovation per se. I am writing about businesses tapping into and using the resources they need to remain profitable and competitively so, and in the face of change that is redefining what that takes.

I have already touched on the issues of outside forces that can redefine and effectively shape disruptive changes that businesses face, and in this posting when considering non-compete clauses as a specific case in point example. I am going to continue this narrative in a next series installment, which I will begin with an at least a brief more detailed discussion of outside regulatory influence and forces as they can impact upon, promote or limit, and shape change in the workplace per se. And then I will proceed to discuss the points that I listed towards the top of this posting as coming next, where I will:

• Expand the set of specific disruptive changes under specific discussion in all of this, and
• Address these issues in timeframe and related contexts as viewed from the individual participant perspective.

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.

Career planning 14: career planning as an ongoing process of analysis and synthesis 8

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on September 15, 2017

This is my 14th installment to a series in which I seek to break open what can become a hidden workings, self-imposed black box construct of career strategy and planning, where it can be easy to drift into what comes next rather than execute to realize what could be best for us (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 459 and following for Parts 1-13.)

I have been discussing change and disruptive change in particular in this series since its Part 12, focusing there on how this is coming to redefine employability and jobs and careers opportunity and for many. And I have focused for the most part on four specific still-emerging sources of such change, which I repeat here for smoother continuity of discussion:

1. Non-compete clauses in hiring and employment agreements,
2. Automation and the spread of artificial intelligence and robotization into the workplace,
3. Telecommuting and the emerging capabilities for people and for businesses to conduct work online and from anywhere to anywhere, and
4. The workplace impact of the cloud on all three of the other sources of change that I make note of here.

I then concluded Part 13 by stating that I would continue its line of discussion here, by looking into:

• How these changes and their impacts are shaped, and both from within businesses and from outside of them.

And I went on to add that after that, I will discuss how these factors and forces would impact upon work and career planning, in identifying and charting best paths forward for them.

I begin addressing all of this from an in-house perspective, and by acknowledging a point that should be obvious to all. No business with more than one employee (owners included) can be truly completely monolithic. A business’ official policy and practice guidelines can and usually do define and enforce commonly held and consistently followed perspectives and practices actually followed and on what can be very wide ranges of issues. And this includes regimentation if you will, as it arises through more strictly business practice-defining operational standards as laid out in the business model and its strategic and operational implementations. Consider standardized forms and the standardized documentation and reporting requirements that they specify as a working example of that. And this can arise through corporate culture and certainly as owners and more senior executives define and enforce their standards on their businesses, and on all who work there. Consider officially required dress codes as they can be passed down as if from on high at a business, as a working example of that. But even the combined influence of both of these sources of unifying process and practice can leave room for variation in understanding and interpretation on the part of both managers and employees. And that means leaving room for variation in what is done and how, and with what prioritization, even when “standard and approved” are basically adhered to.

Let’s reconsider Change 3 from my above-repeated list here and in this context: telecommuting as a terms-of-employment option. Businesses are not monolithic, and even if the owners of such a venture are consistent and clear as to how actively they would adapt new and different, that does not mean that all of their employees and managers would mirror them for that and in all ways and details and for any and all types of change. A business might pride itself on being cutting edge and New-embracing for how they work with and support their managers and employees. And they might basically be supportive of telecommuting and similar workplace accommodations as a matter of general principle. But different managers and at all levels in that business might take very different views from each other when it comes to more personnel and related process issues and options like that: holding very different standards in deciding on a case-by-case basis when they should allow employees to telecommute, and when and under what terms and how often and for how long if they do so.

If a basic business model in place is oriented primarily in terms of reaching performance goals, which most are, and a manager consistently performs well in bringing their team to reach those goals, it is not likely going to concern their supervisor if they take a somewhat more restrictive approach to this option than their supervisor would, or a less restrictive one: as long as the employees impacted by this practice continue to perform effectively at their jobs and everything runs smoothly.

• This type of issue only rises to a level of notable importance higher up on the table of organization when and if work flow and overall performance begin to suffer, specific employee dissatisfaction rises to a level that can create risk for the business, or both.

A terms of employment change such as Change 1: the significant expansion of use of non-compete clauses in employee contracts, would in most cases be applied uniformly across an entire business that has decided to make larger sale use of them at all. If they deploy and insist upon these terms of employment for jobs that do not involve special or proprietary skills or knowledge, they are most certainly going to require them for jobs that do, too.

A change like Change 3 would be expected to show more variation and particularly as different managers argue the need for in-house on-site work participation differently, and for both employee performance and for how best to supervise and manage them. And the level of consistency in how terms of employment are managed for employees who are kept on in the face of automation (Change 2), or in the face of increased reliance on technological innovation such as the cloud (Change 4) would be much less certain still, at least in general terms: much more variable depending on the specific business and industry under consideration and on precisely how those changes were implemented.

And with that noted, I turn this discussion more outward to consider how these changes and their impacts are shaped by factors arising outside of the business in question. I am going to turn to that aspect of this discussion in my next series installment. And after that, I will discuss how these factors and forces (and from both within and from outside of a business) would impact upon work and career planning there, in identifying and charting best paths forward. In anticipation of that, I note here that “disruptive” in disruptive change means “uncertainty”, so flexibility and awareness are essential here. I will also expand the set of specific disruptive changes under specific discussion in all of this, as I proceed from here in this series. And I add that I will address these issues in timeframe and related contexts as viewed from the individual participant perspective.

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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