Have you ever considered your career to be a “project?” If you think about it, your career is one of the most important initiatives that you’ll ever take on. If you want to enjoy success in your career, then why wouldn’t you want to manage it like a strategic initiative? Perhaps using the strategic framework can help.
What Is the Strategic Framework?
I described the strategic framework in my article, The Power of the Strategic Framework. A strategic framework is a structured method used to define how a project or initiative supports the key objectives of stakeholders. There are four components to a strategic framework:
Business Objective. What will the project or initiative achieve?
Approach. How will that achievement be realized?
Measurement. How will achievement be measured and reported?
Target. What is the forecasted improvement that will define success?
When using a strategic framework for career guidance, it’s all about you! You are the stakeholder, and your business objective is to successfully manage your career.
You are the stakeholder, and your business objective is to successfully manage your career.
How to Use the Strategic Framework to Provide Career Guidance
Recall that developing a strategic framework is based on the mission-vision-goals (MVG) statement. Look at your company’s MVG, along with objectives, for some ”food for thought” that provides useful inputs for developing your career plan, such as:
- What does the company value? The mission statement describes why the company exists; the vision statement describes what the company wants to be in the future. These two statements help form what the company values and influences hiring and staffing decisions within the organization.
- What new projects or opportunities are emerging? Goals statements articulate what the company wants to achieve within what timeframes. Goals define the milestones for the company’s journey toward its “to be” state described in the vision statement.
Now that you have those inputs, step back and analyze your current status. Consider:
- How do your contributions help the organization achieve MVG? Do you know how what you do helps the organization achieve the MVG? Can you measure what you do and describe it in terms of MVG?
- Where are your areas for growth for helping the organization achieve MVG? What skills and knowledge are needed from the company’s workforce so that it can realize its MVG?
Use the answers to the above questions to provide you with valuable input into your career “project.”
Think of Your Career as a Project
When it comes to looking at yourself and your career, it may not be so easy to be objective. But using the strategic framework helps you look at things from a business, not personal, perspective first.
First, you have to establish your mission. What defines you and makes you who you are? That is your “mission.”
Next, what does the “future you” look like? From a career perspective, what do you want to be? That is your “vision.”
Now the hard part…defining the goals and objectives that enable you to realize your vision.
What Can Your Company Offer?
Review the company’s goals and objectives to help you identify opportunities to further your contributions. Explore joining an active or upcoming project that may provide opportunities to leverage your strengths as well as provide personal challenges and new learnings.
Look at the company’s vision statement for insight into where the company is going. Do you have the needed knowledge and skills to contribute to the company of the future? Does the vision resonate with you? What do you need to do to be where the company is going to be? Do you lack the skills needed in the future-state company? Identify and invest in training and self-study to gain the needed knowledge. Look for opportunities to apply that knowledge to build up your skills. Consider finding and engaging a mentor to provide you with coaching, advice, and a “sounding board” as you invest in yourself.
Do Your Career Goals Align with Your Company’s Direction?
Perhaps the one of the more difficult questions to answer regarding your career is whether your career goals align with your company’s direction. It’s difficult to think about leaving a company, especially if you like the people with whom you’re working. But you must look at your career as objectively as possible. Keep in mind that you are in charge of your career—not your boss, not your significant other, and not your teammates. Only you can manage your career.
A Project Is Not a Project Without Targets and Measures
Keep in mind that a project is not a project unless there are clearly defined deliverables and deadlines for accomplishing those deliverables. Now that you have some insights and data points, define those goals and objectives that will help you realize your career vision.
Remember, a goal is a milestone. In the case of managing your career, it will represent a target and a date for meeting that milestone. Next define how you’re going to get to that goal. In other words, define your objectives along with how you will measure progress toward achieving your goals.
A Compass for Plotting Your Career
Now you have the basics of a defined project for your career. But you’re not done.
To successfully manage your career in this fashion, you must be committed. You must commit to investing effort and resources in order to advance your career. Know that there will be bumps along the way, and things won’t always turn out as planned or hoped. When—not if—that happens, treat the situation as a learning opportunity and take some time to reflect. A good place to start is by asking yourself two questions:
- What did I learn? Treat mistakes and failures as learning opportunities. Often mistakes and failures provide great insights and opportunities for learning.
- What could I do differently going forward? Based on what you learned, evaluate what could be done differently. Then try that approach during the next opportunity.
A strategic framework can be a great compass to use for guiding and managing your career. If you think of your career as a project, a strategic framework can help you look objectively at your career, identify targets and measures, and set your course.
Doug Tedder is a strategic, innovative, and solutions-driven IT service management professional with more than 20 years of progressive experience across a variety of industries. He’s a resourceful and hands-on leader with track record of success implementing ITSM and IT governance processes. Doug is a certified ITIL Expert and ISO/IEC 20000 Consultant Manager and holds many other industry certifications. In addition, Doug is an accredited ITIL Foundation trainer and HDI Support Center Analyst and Support Center Manager instructor. Follow Doug on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.