#005 - Who cares more about your own career than you?
Welcome to Issue #005 of The Forcing Function - your guide to delivering the right outcomes for your projects and your users.
🤔 Made me think: Learning something new requires you to leave your comfort zone.
👨💻 Worth checking out: The difficulty in defining "intelligence" + an app that solves window management in MacOS.
So where are you with your career and where are you going with it?
"I simply don't care about your career."
Not the words you'd expect anyone to say to you. Let alone from your career buddy who's supposedly meant to guide you from being a low-level analyst up to the consultant grade.
However, my career buddy was teaching me a lesson.
He drilled it into me that the only person that cared about my career had to be me. And if I didn't take care of my career, or nurture it, or progress it, then I'd be going nowhere. He made it clear that it wasn't his job to ease the way - it was mine and mine alone.
"Control your own destiny or someone else will.”
Jack Welch | General Motors Chairman and CEO
My career capability framework
It was a rude awakening and a wake up call that I needed.
From that point, I decided to pro-actively manage my career. Given my consultancy background, I naturally formulated a framework for doing just that.A framework that I've been refining throughout my career and one that I continue to use to this day.
Some definitions first:
Capability: A unique blend of elements needed to deliver an outcome. Those elements include: experience, knowledge, skills, tooling, and behaviours.
Capability Framework: A way to organise those capabilities both into groups of related capabilities and by the expected proficiency levels.
Proficiency: How good you are at a capability group or capability.
ℹ️ For brevity, I'll just describe how I use my framework at the capability group level.
The illustration below visualises my career capability framework using a radar chart.
Over time, I've distilled the capabilities that matter to my career into five capability groups:
Domain Expertise: The business knowledge and understanding that informs how and what you deliver.
Such as subject matter expertise in financial services regulation.
Platform Expertise: Understanding the strengths, limitations, and weird idiosyncrasies of the technology that you're deploying.
Such as how best to use Salesforce cases.
Methodology Expertise: Knowing which specific approaches, processes, and techniques are appropriate and how to apply them effectively.
Such as managing stakeholders.
Tooling Expertise: How well you use the software tools to deliver your activities and artefacts.
Such as using Lucid effectively.
Behavioural Qualities: Underpinning all capability groups, the personal skills that dictate how well you deliver overall.
Such as your attention to detail.
For each capability group, I gauge my proficiency using this scale.
Level 1: Foundation
Level 2: Limited
Level 3: Adept
Level 4: Advanced
Level 5: Expert
The definitions of each level are specific to each group. They are also updated periodically as I work my way through the levels and realise what I still have yet to master.
Applying the framework
Review regularly each capability group by asking myself questions like:
Where am I now?
What do I need to get to the next proficiency level?
What's the best way to get there?
Assess across the capability groups not just where I need to improve but, most importantly, why I need to and where I need to get to.
Prioritise what I need to improve on and when.
Following the framework drives my career. My career, in turn, drives the framework.
Mapping where I was and where I needed to improve
Bringing this to life, let's compare where I was in 2012 to where I am in 2022.
Why 2012? That was when I switched to contracting. I moved from an environment where I could pick projects to an environment where I had to compete with other BA contractors for the same contract roles.
ℹ️ For conciseness, I'll do a detailed walkthrough of how I determined my capabilities and my proficiency in a separate guide.
For now, below is where I was in these three capability groups and what I did to improve each one - in different ways.
Capability: Industry knowledge and experience.
Issue: I had identified financial services as my target sector for contracting. But, I didn't have recent experience which could deter potential clients.
Resolution: I focused on my efforts to find contracts only for these clients - even if I had to forgo a better rate for work elsewhere.
Capability: Products and services expertise.
Issue: When I worked on my first Salesforce project, without knowing enough about their products, I wasn't able to effectively guide the business stakeholders on their requirements.
Resolution: To reinforce my what I learnt first-hand on the project, I earned my first Salesforce certification and subsequently added two more.
Capability: Verbal communication.
Issue: The more I engaged with senior stakeholders, the more I tended to speak too quickly - especially when I was nervous.
Resolution: Working with a communications coach, he helped me find and hone the techniques that worked for me to naturally pace myself.
A constant learning journey
Over the last 10 years of contracting, I've naturally changed my outcomes which have also changed what capabilities matter.
When I left permanent work, I was proficient in implementing Microsoft SharePoint. But when I switched to specialise in Salesforce, I had to start from the bottom and work my way back up. Now at Level 3, my plans to reach Level 4 involve a combination of obtaining further Salesforce certifications as well as writing about Salesforce here.
As for Level 5, that's always the stretch goal as there's always something new to know or something more to master - you never quite get there but you don't stop trying.
Now, a quick exercise for you:
Using the capability groups above as a rough guide, where would you rate yourself on each?
For those capability groups that you rated lower, what's the top capability in each that you need to be more proficient at?
What's one small improvement you could work on today?
🤔 Made me think
Learning something new requires you to leave your comfort zone.
Sticking to your existing patterns is comfortable and safe. You know it works and the results are predictable. But if you only stick to what you know, then you'll only see what you expect to see.
"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to treat everything as if it were a nail."
Abraham Maslow | Psychologist
🧑💻Worth checking out
📺 What Is Intelligence? Where Does it Begin? (Kurzgesagt): When you try to define this basic concept, it's fascinating how difficult and multi-faceted any answer is.
🖥 Moom: For those of you using MacOS and external monitors, this $10 app fixes that annoyance of having to reposition your windows each and every time you log back in.
🖖Until next Thursday ...
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For now, thank you so much for reading this week's issue of The Forcing Function and I hope that you have a great day.
PS: Thanks to P for reading drafts of this.