Analyst, Project Manager, Architect, etc.
All of these titles are common claims to fame. Certifications exist which validate one’s arrival in each professional domain. Discipline experts, with these titles and certifications, are targeted and compensated for their acceptance in these clubs. These are all great things. Why would anyone not want to be a part of one or more of these clubs?
For me, that answer is simple. Each is too narrowly focused to define the way I think, the way I work, and the kind of people I want to interact with.
I believe in entrepreneurial thinkers. People willing to take what they know and think through problems in new and imaginative ways. People willing to wear every hat required to innovate.
I am the chapter president for one of the above referenced certification bodies. So why would I advocate against the very thing I’m trying to grow and represent? Because growing a chapter is an entrepreneurial endeavor. It’s less, for me, about the narrowly focused content of the discipline, and more about taking that expertise and expanding how our customers think of their roles and capabilities.
Do I advocate certifications? Absolutely! But the certification alone will not make you a better asset to an organization. It’s only after you take the knowledge you’ve gained and deploy it in innovative ways that you’ll truly deliver value.
Be more than your title.
I recently put in a large order of reading material at work. All of the books were on my favorites list and were really just an opportunity to enlighten others at work. I did decide however to take a chance on an author that was recommended at a recent seminar, Patrick Lencioni.
I opted for “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job”. Now, I don’t have a miserable. As a matter of fact, I actually really enjoy my job. I was drawn to this book as it was written in fable form. It did not disappoint. The story was compelling and felt real. The disciplines within sound simple but require perseverance to be successful.
Instead of buying more books for others, I think I’m going to try something very simple. I’m going to tape a sign-up sheet to the inside of my copy. Then, I’m going to pass it around to other managers around me. I’ll as that they print their name on the left side to track who has read the book and sign the right side if they will commit to what the book outlines. I wonder how quickly I can get 10 people committed and talking about irrelevance, immeasurement, and anonymity: job misery.
My department recently went through a reorganization that moved me into a new role that isn’t clearly defined. I found myself lost and confused. The day of the announcement I asked my new supervisor how I win. She wasn’t able to answer that question.
I spent the entire next week confused, wondering, hypothesising, assuming, worrying. Today I finally had a follow-up with my boss. I explained the current status of my direct reports, contractors, and issues. We then started talking loosely about my new role. She still had questions she was working through with her boss. But then it happened. I asked the question I should have asked on day 1, “What should I be doing right now to start moving in the right direction?”
I really don’t know what I was thinking the first time we met. How could I possible think she would have the vision for my new role completely mapped out and ready for me to execute. I realize now that I am in a position to define how I walk down the new path that has been laid before me. It’s with this new found understanding that I look at tomorrow completely different than I have the entire last week.
I recently got invited to a half day seminar host by Franklin Covey on the 4 Disciplines of Execution. I am admittedly a skeptic and didn’t think I was going to get much out of the day
The day started as expected. “Here is our book, and our book on CD, and our marketing materials to be certified on the materials on our book, etc.” Very quickly however, the topic shifted to execution and accomplishing wildly important goals. This immediately sounded familiar. It sounded much like Good to Great.
There are only a few books that I can honestly admit have shaped my approach to nearly everything that I do. It started with Good to Great. I wasn’t moved by the leaders focused on in that book but the ideas around what makes a company great.
Shortly thereafter I read Negotiate This… How to Care but Not That Much. I am passionate about what I do, but when the obstacles aren’t worth fighting, I’m capable of walking away.
Mastering the Complex Sale was the next on the list. It taught me that there is a better way to sell than promising things your aren’t sure you can deliver while insulting the competition.
Now I’m adding the Four Disciplines of Execution to my list. This book is solid. The concepts are solid. The entire approach is proven. That being said, the implementation is hard. It is confusing, not from a technical perspective, but from a behavioral one.
I won’t ruin it for you but if you are looking to find a way to build a winning team, this is a focused approach that is well worth exploring.