By Whitney Johnson
Driven by discovery.
This phrase sounds magical—evoking images of explorers like Columbus or Lewis and Clark. It seems even more magical when you consider one of the key attributes of a successful executive is curiosity, and that 70 percent of all successful new businesses end up with a strategy different than the one initially pursued. Groupon, for example, started out as an activism platform bringing people together to fundraise for a cause or to boycott retailers (ironic!) while Netflix, the Emmy-winning content company, started as a door-to-door DVD rental service.
But there’s a rub.
Discovery implies the unknown and most of us seem to prefer the safe harbor of the known–even when the known isn’t all that great. So, here’s a hack for putting some structure around navigating the unknown based on theory of discovery-driven planning of Rita Gunther-McGrath and Ian McMillan.
1. Create a reverse income statement. If you are launching a new company, rather than forecasting how much revenue you will generate and what your costs will be and then solving for the profit, you build the income statement in reverse. You decide on your required income, and then solve for how much revenue will deliver those profits, and how much cost can be allowed. When it comes to personal disruption, the question you ask is: To achieve my baseline level of happiness, what do I need to accomplish and what am I willing to give up in order to make this happen?
2. Calculate the cost. With this step, you estimate what the cost will be to produce, sell, and deliver a product or service to a customer. Combined, these are the allowable costs that permit the business model to hold together. As an individual, the question is what kind of time, expertise, money, and buy-in will you need to make your plan operational?
3. Compile an assumption checklist. This checklist allows you to flag and discuss each assumption as the venture unfolds. For example, what assumptions are you making about how much you will sell and at what price? As an individual, if you decide you want to earn $300,000 a year consulting, and last year you earned $270,000 consulting, then conventional planning works. If you’ve never consulted, then you’d want to think about the assumptions behind your ability to earn that $300,000. How many clients will you need? How many hours per day will you need to bill, and at what price point? Do you enjoy the work, and will it be emotionally satisfying?
4. Prepare a milestone chart. This chart specifies which assumptions need to be tested and what you are going to learn by each milestone. In discovery-driven planning, learning is the essential unit of progress, so a course correction isn’t equivalent to failure, as it would be in conventional planning. Rather, it’s an opportunity to recalibrate so you achieve your goals more quickly.
One of the key attributes ascribed to disruptors is that they play where no one else is playing. As a trailblazer, even though you may have a goal or purpose, your path to that objective is yet to be marked.
Being driven by discovery can be scary and lonely, and you will undoubtedly end up in places you haven’t anticipated. But, like Lewis and Clark, you have a plan: to discover and conquer territory.
About the Author
Whitney Johnson is an investor, speaker, author, and leading thinker on driving innovation through personal disruption. Her new book Disrupt Yourself, will be released on October 6, 2015. To learn more, visit http://whitneyjohnson.com/disrupt-yourself.
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“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau ~
Client Kevin Asks: I am so stuck in a rut with my present job—it feels like walking through quicksand. I know what the next step is, the promotion to the job I want but I’m so busy doing what the current job demands that I have no time to even plan a strategy for moving ahead. How can I get out of this swamp?
Coach Joel Answers: Unfortunately, many companies easily overlook the people who labor in silence, who do what it takes to get the job done, but never manage to get ahead. If you really want your paycheck and your job title to match your capabilities and the amount of work you do, you need to focus on creating visibility—and you need to be happy while you’re doing it. Appearances count for a lot, and you need to love the job you have while planning your next move. Here are three important steps you can take right now.
- Love the one you’re with
- Divide and conquer
- Create a new model
1. Love the one you’re with. I see you stressing out a lot because you don’t have the band-width or energy to do everything that’s on your plate right now. Before you can move ahead, you need to enjoy being where you are. Start having fun at it. A few things you can start doing today:
- Ask for positive feedback. Don’t wait for your annual review. Look at your current projects and ask your team members or your boss for some positive input. Focus only on what’s going well.
- Start the day on a high note. When you look at your current projects or to-do list, pick the most enjoyable item and start there. It will change the tone of your whole day by creating energy and enthusiasm.
- List your accomplishments. Once a week, write down everything you’ve accomplished—from small things to big projects. You’ll be amazed at what you’re getting done.
2. Divide and conquer. Even though you’re doing a great job now, what got you here won’t get you there. First, lay out all your current projects and responsibilities. Ask yourself what HAS to get done to continue your success at a base line level so you don’t create any red flags. You might have 1/3 that has to get done, 1/3 that relates to the job you want to have (visible stuff) and the other 1/3 is the stuff you might be able to get rid of, or put less time on. This will create more time and energy for new activities. Here’s the key to making delegation work: keep your name on key projects so you are getting some of the credit while not actually doing the work.
3. Create a new model. You need to show continuously visible productivity, or put plainly, work on the things that everyone sees. Make sure you understand your boss’s priorities and make them your priorities. Volunteer for high profile projects or new company initiatives. Speak up in meetings. Be enthusiastic and make sure everyone knows you’re happy to be part of the team. Call attention to your successes while sharing plenty of credit with those around you.
Keep your eye on the prize. You already know what your next career move looks like. Keep focusing on that. Ask yourself each day, “What did I do today that fits my new model? How did I move closer to my next dream job? Before long, you’ll be exactly where you want and deserve to be.
If you’re struggling to break out of the pack and move to the next level, contact Joel today for more strategies you can use to move to the next level.
Talkback: Are you stuck in a rut? Do you have some success strategies that have helped you break free? Share your experience here.
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“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~
While it’s hard to walk into a new job, sometimes the most difficult jobs to take are in-company promotions. You have the advantage, of course, of being familiar with the company and its policies. You know the work and the people. But… you need to transition from peer to boss.
In a job in a new company, you can more easily step into that leadership role, but you must get to know the people, the policies, the company and the workload. How can you step into this new management job and be successful regardless of the new circumstances?
Here are seven steps to help—whether it’s a new job or an in-house promotion.
1. Talk to your boss. You want to clearly understand your role. What does he or she expect of you in this new position? What are your added responsibilities? You might ask the boss how he has dealt with a similar transition. How did he relate to his former peers? Don’t just talk at the start of the new job. Keep in frequent contact with your boss asking for feedback on your performance on a regular basis. That way, you can make sure you don’t stray far from his or her goals without correction.
2. Remember why you were promoted. Sometimes, when we’ve been working with talented successful professionals, we wonder why we were chosen over them. There’s always a reason. Make a list of your skills and talents. Look at the projects you’ve accomplished and the value you’ve brought to the company. You are ready and capable of taking this step. Own it.
3. Read up. Your new management job may call for new skills. Certainly you will need to step up your leadership qualities. Read books on management and leadership. Schedule your time to include learning leadership skills for your new role.
4. Consider coaching or finding a mentor. When you are in a new job, you’re uncomfortable. There’s so much to learn. At times like this, an experienced voice can be invaluable. If there is someone you admire within the company, take him or her to lunch and ask for advice. Most people are generous when they know you’re interested in learning. If there are no mentors at hand, you may want to hire an experienced coach to streamline your progress.
5. Choose leadership. When you are interacting with former peers, it’s easy to slip back into old ways. Even in new situations there are times where you can to choose to be a leader or choose to minimize yourself. Be aware of those times. Be conscious of them. Then make the decision to lead.
6. Give yourself time. When you’re new to your job, you can’t expect to be perfect right away. Not any more than a young basketball player can have the same skill sets as a Michael Jordan. You can, however, practice like he practices and value what he values. As a new manager deliberately make choices to lead.
7. Adapt management attributes. Make a list of all the qualities a great manager has. Perhaps you’ll list organization, follow through, listening, authority, decisiveness, or integrity. Each day write one of these qualities in a place you’ll see it throughout the day. Make each action, decision, email or interaction deliberately considering this quality. Own the quality for the day. As you do this each day, these attributes will become yours.
Whether you are promoted from within or hired from outside, these seven steps can assure you fill that new management job successfully… and set yourself up so you can advance again.
If you have questions about your new job, contact Joel.
Talkback: What have been some of the difficulties you’ve faced in a new management job? What tips can you give others to successfully overcome new leadership challenges?
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~ Colin Powell ~
Increase your personal development and career potential as you master these areas of communication with your boss. Great communication demonstrates growth and maturity. Poor communication sabotages your advancement. Eliminate these words and the values they illustrate and see your influence and recognition rise.
1. “It was nothing.” “No big deal.” When you can’t accept a compliment, you show a lack of confidence in yourself. After all, if you don’t think it’s a good job, why should anyone else? When your boss compliments you, don’t denigrate yourself. He is praising your skills and accomplishments. Own them. Sometimes people down-play their achievements due to a false sense of modesty. If you want to move your career forward, accept these compliments with graciousness. Say “Thank you.” Smile.
2. “Well, I emailed you about that a week ago.” This statement tells your boss you think that once it’s off your desk, it’s no longer your responsibility. It also suggests criticism of her for not finding it and reading it. Taking personal responsibility for your career development means you follow up. If you need feedback, send a gentle reminder. Remember, email is not the only form of communication. Pick up the phone and call… or walk down the hall and talk to the boss in person. It takes more effort, but this stretch shows you take responsibility.
3. Sigh. You might deny it, but both you and your boss know that sighs can say 50 different things… most of them not good. It might mean frustration, a feeling of over work, disgust that you’re forced to work with someone, do something, be somewhere you don’t like. Because you’re focused on improving yourself, watch how many times you sigh and ask yourself what caused them. If necessary, use positive communication to express your thoughts.
4. “Not my problem.” People looking to improve their careers can’t be perceived as lazy or uncaring. In reality, if it’s your boss’s problem, it becomes your problem. Your job description includes a range of flexibility and your willingness to go the extra mile will go a long way in impressing the boss.
5. “That’s not the way we did it last time.” Traditions and ruts may indicate to your superiors that you’re not ready to take on different or innovative tasks. In this changing economy, companies seek new ways to improve the bottom line. They look for employees willing to come on board with that.
6. “I just bought a Ferrari.” Your boss is not all that concerned with your personal life. Nor is he likely to be impressed if you have something bigger and better than he does. Keep personal things out of the office. When conversations focus on business tasks, you’re more likely to be perceived as advancement material.
7. “Is this the best they could do?” Whether it’s the new copy machine or the holiday bonus, criticizing the company’s policy or decisions will not make a good impression. You might be viewed as feeling entitled. If you can’t influence a decision or solve a problem, save your breath and focus on what will help you add value to the company…and your career.
Good communications require personal development and increasing maturity. Think before you speak. Make sure what you say reflects your best values and you will increase your chances to grow your career to greater heights.
Joel Garfinkle helps up and coming leaders understand specific steps to increase their personal development and advance their career potential. . Contact Joel now to learn how he can move your career forward. Or check out his newest book Getting Ahead.
Talkback: What phrases have you heard that are career killers? Have you seen the results of bad communication, or do you have an example of masterful communication?
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“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
~ Andy Warhol ~
There are some exciting changes underway at the Career Advancement Blog, and to celebrate, we’re giving you the chance to win a copy of Joel Garfinkle’s career coaching book, Getting Ahead.
But first, let’s talk about the changes.
Starting Thursday, July 26, we’ll be publishing two weekly columns: Q&A with Joel on Mondays and Real Leaders, Real Stories on Thursdays.
Everyone likes a good story, and we know you’ve got some good ones to tell. Here’s your chance to share your leadership story with other leaders. Let us know if you’d like to be featured in our Real Leaders, Real Stories column, and we’ll make it happen. You can write it yourself or one of our writers can help you put your story into words.
The stories in this column will have something to do with leadership or career advancement and will include action items or tips to help other leaders learn from your experiences. Click here to submit your story idea.
Q&A with Joel is just what it sounds like—a chance for you to ask career and leadership questions and get answers from an experienced executive coach. Ask your questions in the comment section of the latest Q&A with Joel column, and each week, Joel will select one question to answer in his next column. To get things started, can comment with a question on this post, and Joel will use one of those questions for his first Q&A.
Win a Copy of Getting Ahead!
As part of our blog re-launch, we are giving away a copy of Joel’s latest book, Getting Ahead. The giveaway starts at 12:01 am EST on 7/23/12 and ends at 12:01 am EST on 7/30/12. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.
Are you ready to propel your career to the next level? Don’t wait to see if you won the book: Contact Joel Garfinkle for career and executive coaching today!
Talkback: Do you have a question for Joel’s Q&A column? Leave it in the comment section below, and your question could be featured in the very first Q&A with Joel next Monday!