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    Entries in agility (3)


    3 Things to Future-Proof Your Career

    Are you thinking for a living?

    When demographer Bernard Salt presents, he's always sensemaking for us; making sense of complex data, trends and information, no matter the topic.
    At a presentation on Jobs in the Knowledge Economy, he said with the rise of machine learning and constant technological developments, we might wonder if knowledge jobs (where you 'think for a living') are under threat or it's an even bigger opportunity waiting to happen.
    Constant change and daily disruption are familiar themes in the world of work and business today; the big upsides I see are there for the makers, artisans and creators.
    This is not about hippy art, pastels and macrame. It's about the way we think, design, engage and create things for customers, clients and each other.

    It's becoming easier to be a maker today. As Salt says:
    ‘the tools of production
    have become democratised’
    We've got greater access to a host of tools to make, create, shape and inspire change – whether that's in an analogue and/or a digital way.
    Entrepreneurism too is becoming even more accessible where you can adopt the thinking style of an entrepreneur, even if you're in a job role. I see this as the path for the future.

    Being entrepreneurial is no longer the thing you would 'fall back on' if your career path wasn't quite working out. Rather as Cameron Herold explains in his TED talk 'Let's raise kids to be entrepreneurs' (read the transcript) we have an instinctive drive to create, make and share. 
    In business we need to work smarter to adopt a culture of enterprise – and with it, a culture of failure. Failure is still hot right now in talk, yet I don’t see nearly enough leaders encouraging experimentation, inspiring curiosity or allowing and fostering ingenuity in their teams.
    Though digital might have brought the 'death of distance', Salt says we humans still crave connection. Our ability to start and maintain interpersonal relationships is still crucial to our future careers. 

    So how do you future-proof your career as these changes and disruptions continue?

    These three things will do it:
    • Fluidity
    • Agility
    • Mobility
    That means we need to be malleable and to 'go with it'.
    We need to adapt and respond. Swift-like!
    And we need to move... and be willing to be moved. 
    We need to upskill, reskill and soft skill and to adopt an easy-goingness that makes us approachable. This is a type of affability that keeps you friendly and outgoing... so that people want to work with you.
    Being social will get you far.  Whether it’s social face-to-face, online, remotely or however else you can connect, engage and be human with other humans... do that. 
    Fluidity. Agility. Mobility. And while you're at it, upskill, reskill, softskill.

    Affability will take you well into the future of work.

    Leaders Who Pivot

    The term pivot has grown in popularity recently with its application to the world of the start up, the lean start up and making a course correction.

    Eric Ries’ 'The Lean StartUp' explains it as a whole step in the process of Build/Measure/Learn, that from the learning part, you may need to head off over there, in another direction depending on market response to your idea or other influences that mean you need to shift and adjust and adapt… to be agile. 

    In this VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous), uncertainty needs to be met not with ridigity but with flexibility. 

    Are you willing to shift off your set course? How willing are you to make a course correction?

    Aaah, but what if you’re not a start up? What if you’re an old old family business? What if you’re part of a BIG global institution like a bank or a service business or health care provider or a big, cumbersome government department? 
    What has 'starting up' anything got to do with you? How could you possibly pivot with what the organisation is working on? Maybe you think it will take six months to get things to shift to another direction no matter how small. Or perhaps the place is always pivoting, crazy-like, not able to set its mind on anything.

    Well, here’s the deal.  Individuals can pivot.  A lot. 

    The Daily Pivot

    Have you watched someone walking down the street, then they kind of change their mind and quickly start walking back the way they’ve come, only to switch again and head across the road in another direction (looking both ways of course).   There are some quick pivots there, a change of mind, a rearranging of priorities and working out what to do first, next, later. 

    The Lifestyle Pivot

    Or have you heard from a friend who had plan A in place (selling their house, living in another country, planning a holiday to exotic location) only to meet up with them again and they’re now running with plan B (staying put, staying put and staying put - having a staycation). These are all changes in thinking, although these are all pretty safe. 

    Perhaps next time you meet up they are onto Plan C: haven’t sold the house but are renting it out, are doing a work placement in another city and are holidaying in a developing country as a volunteer. More changes. More pivots.  
    In business, connecting in to experimenting and risking and willingness to fail is the pivot. 

    If something doesn’t work, move on and get on to doing something else. 

    "So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don't sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we've satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late. 

    - Lee Iacocca

    Plot Twists and Tilts

    The pivot is the ‘plot twist’. You’ve seen it in movies and films and some of the best storyline in the world feature the unexpected pivot.

    It looks like this: all’s well and everything is going great and then when you least expect it, here it comes, the ‘whammmo’ plot twist. 

    In improvisation where performers make up stuff as they go along, it’s called a ‘tilt’. Unexpected but responsive and it makes for brilliant theatre. You’ll get gasps and oooohs and aaaaaahs from the audience for a good tilt!

    The Business Pivot

    Learn from this. If you’re building, measuring and learning, no matter your field or industry, welcome the plot twist, the pivot and the preparedness to head off in another direction. It may be just a slight correction, a few degrees off, but it’s different enough to show you some different measurements and create some different learnings and leads to very different outcomes. 

    Ask these questions (in a workshop, strategy session or team meeting): 

    • What are you sticking to at the moment?
    • What are you hanging on to, willing the thing to work dammit?
    • What do you need to ‘give up’ on and shift, or pivot?
    • What could a pivot look like in this situation?
    • What would be a BIG mofo pivot?
    • What could be a smaller pivot - but a pivot nonetheless?
    • Who are you working with at the moment who needs to read this? Who isn’t shifting, one iota? Who needs to pivot?

     Be a leader who pivots; a leader who responds in uncertainty and doesn’t get stuck, paralysed or frozen from indecision. 


    Think. Build. Ship. Tweak. 

    Forget the days of heading to the CD shop to buy a CD – just stream what you want to listen to via an online service like Spotify.

    So how does a business like Spotify get their sh*t together and take on a market, and an industry and revel in the opportunity to disrupt?
    Henrik Kniberg shined a light on some of the leadership and management insights of Spotify at a conference recently - he's been working as a lean and agile coach.  

    Go anti-silo and have squads and tribes
    Henrik reckons a minimum viable bureaurcracy is the way to go…to group people into tribes; to have squads of people who collaborate with each other to find the best solution. These groups cut across the organisation. It’s somewhat of an anti silo strategy.

    Healthy culture heals broken processes
    Don’t try and scale your product or service – rather, descale the organisation. A healthy culture is what will heal broken processes. We’ve all felt the pain of a broken process when we’ve interacted with a business or organisation and things just didn't go well :-(
    It seems that control is dying but not yet buried. In fact it’s trust that flourishes; it’s more powerful than control. Having autonomy across the organisation means you can move fast. Be agile.

    What agility looks like
    In Henrik's words, agility looks like this:

    • Think it
    • Build it
    • Ship it
    • Tweak it

    Don’t you love it?
    And it's alignment that enables the autonomy. Without people being aligned to the vision, plan and purpose, you’ll create fear, silos, yawn culture, and a host of flow on problems.

    Fail fast ... and recover from it
    You’ve got to let people make mistakes. To fail fast. But then recover from the failure.

    I think too many leaders think they're encouraging failure yet secretly fear failure because it takes so damn long to recover from it – “hmmm, best to not go there at all,” they think.
    Rather, go there. Fail it fast. But Henrik says limit your ‘blast radiance’ – limit the effect of the fail and how far it impacts around the organisation.

    Are we learning anything people?

    Leverage the learning from the fail. And further, you’ve got to then share the learning from the fail. Trust and support people.

    Contemporary leaders of today have to let go and let their teams make sense of what needs to be done and how to do it. Community is what matters.
    Move fast, fail fast, limit the blast.
    Think. Build. Ship. Tweak.