Career Development and You: Which group do you belong to?

 

Over the 15 years in my career, I have met quite a number of people. While every one is uniquely different, when I analyse their career goals and ambitions, I realise that most people belong to one of four groups. Unlike personality types, people can and will fall into different groups at different points in their careers. 
The four common groups that I’ve identified are:

1. Those who know what they want and how to get them 

2. Those who know what they want but don’t know how to get them

3. Those who don’t know what they want

4. Those who are just happy and content

Group 1: Those who know what they want and how to get them

This group is a dream group and sometimes I’m lucky enough to have people that belong to this group as my direct reports. People in this group are often high achievers but they are also pragmatic and have S.M.A.R.T goals. They dream big and they understand it takes hard work, a good plan, commitment and a little bit of luck to realise their dreams. People in this group inspire others and show others how it can be done. 

Group 2: Those who know what they want but don’t know how to get them

People from this group know what they want from their careers, they might say they want to be a CEO, CTO, General Manager, Supervisor, Expert and so on. If group 1 is a dream group, we could say group 2 is a dreamers group. Just knowing what you want is not the best state to be in. Knowing how to get there, identifying steps that need to be taken, seeking help, experience, education and knowledge required are crucial to achieving goals. Therefore, having good coaches, mentors and managers really help people in this group as they can provide guidance and advice. Good news is that over time, with experience and right mindset, people in this group usually end up in the above group, group 1.  

Group 3: Those who don’t know what they want

As a manager and a mentor, I’ve had a few situations where I asked others what they want, and I received a blank stare. When prompted, I often received the answer, “oh, I don’t know what I want, can you tell me?”. Earlier in my career, I’d think to myself, how could I possibly help someone if they don’t even know what they want for themselves. But as I have gotten older, I have also become wiser; I’ve learned that we can help people in this group if we take enough time to know and understand them and if they have the right mindset. Asking right questions, showing them opportunities, giving them examples can help identify what they might want for their career. This may seem like hard work but it can actually be quite rewarding to be a mentor or manager of people in this group. 

Group 4: Those who are just happy and content

People in this group sometimes also belong to people in group 3 or are an extension of it, those who don’t know what they want, and that is because they are perfectly content where they are. They can also belong to group 1, they know what they want and how to get them so they have clarity and are perfectly happy and satisfied with what they are doing. I’ve actually worked with a few people like that and they respond well to genuine support in helping them refine their skills, becoming better at their current role and getting stretch assignments that are in line with their long-term goals. While being content with what you have is wonderful, I believe that happiness and job satisfaction are infinite feelings and there is always room to feel happier and more satisfied with your career. 

Have you identified which group you belong to right now? As I mentioned earlier, we can fall into a different group at a different time. As for me, sometimes, I am perfectly happy and fall into group 4 but other times, I have strong desire to be more, to do more and to become a better version of myself, and when that happens, I find myself in either group 1 or group 2. It can be quite exhausting yet motivating. I don’t claim to be an expert in career development, however, knowing which group I currently belong to and my team members belong to had helped me adjust myself and provide the right support, and it is my hope that you find this article helpful for you too.

Manifesto for awesome developers

Last week, I turned to social media for input on how developers would describe themselves and responses were amazing. I would like to thank amazing people who participated and have helped and inspired me in my assignment. Without further ado, let me present you…

Manifesto for awesome developers
 1. We are passionate.

2. We are problem solvers. 

3. We think, we dream, we innovate and we deliver solutions. 

4. We are richly diverse.

5. We are humble.

6. And geeky. 

7. We strive for technical excellence and highest quality of outcome. 

8. We love what we do. 

9. We love technology. 

10. And we believe technology is the future. 

Here is to awesome developers! 

Innovation Design Process – The model for delivering impactful solutions


Last week, I was fortunate to visit the tech city, Silicon Valley. On the day I was catching my flight home, I had a few hours to spare in the morning so I decided to drop by at The Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San Jose. When I walked through the entrance of the museum, there was a big poster stand that reads “Inspiring the innovator in everyone”. And boy, were they right.   

In this article, I’d like to share with you one important thing I learned from my museum trip, the Innovation Design Process. 

    
The Innovation Design Process consists of 5 steps as follows. 

1. Find your why 

2. Imagine

3. Create 

4. Test 

5. Reflect & Share 

Find your why   

 There are three questions to be answered at this stage; why is it important to you, what is the need, and who will benefit. This may seem like an extra step but as someone who has no shortage of ideas but has had issues with delivering impactful solutions, I truly believe this is the most crucial part of the process. If we don’t believe that what we are doing or creating is going to benefit others or if we don’t really know the reason why we are innovating in the first place then when we face challenges and difficulties, we are more likely to give up. For the case study, “Sensing with a sniff”, the creator has the strong desire to be able to detect cancer earlier after his wife had emergency surgery for advanced colon cancer. Because he knows and believes that finding cancer early is the key to survival.  

Imagine   

During imagine stage, we answer the question of how might we approach the problem and then come up with a list of ideas. When we imagine a world of possibilities, we are empowered to make a change and this is what imagine stage aims to achieve. In the case of “Sensing with a sniff”, the creator imagined that if there is a way to easily and quickly detect cancer, and if screening is as easy as breathing in and out then this could potentially save a lot of lives.  

Create

  
Create stage is the stage that a lot of people are most familiar with, because we have the tendency to jump straight into solutions or fall in love with solutions that we would like to implement, without really understanding the problem or imagining possibilities. As someone with a technical background and capabilities, I am guilty of this. Possible activities during create stage are exploring materials, drawing sketches, making and building stuff and writing stories. In the case study, the creator was inspired by dog’s super sense of smell, also known as dog’s super schnoz, and used technology (low-cost silicon chip) to detect cancer early from human’s breath.  

Test   

 Testing is as important as creating, if not more. It is important because once something has been created, we need to find out whether it actually works as intended and solves the problem that we have. Testing gives us the answer. During testing, we may also find out special or edge cases that we haven’t thought of previously and we can factor them into our solution to make it even better. Or we find out that what we created is not fit for purpose and decide to pursue a different approach to solving the problem. In the case study, the creator tried out his creation with a sample group of people to observe and measure its effectiveness.  

Reflect & Share  

The last stage of Innovation Design Process is Reflect & Share. At this stage, creators take a step back from creating and testing and understand the impact of their solution. Creators may also share their findings and may be open to collaborate with others who have ideas for improvement. In the case study for “Sensing with a sniff”, the outcome of Reflect & Share stage was that if there are cheaper and mobile sensors, it will make detecting cancer accessible.  

To conclude, I really liked the Innovation Design Process because it provides a good model for managing innovation and seeing through the whole process from problems to solutions. It also sparked a chance for me to look back and think about past projects and where I could have done differently.  I’ll be using this new model and applying it whenever I am innovating or driving and managing innovation in the future.