I recently worked within an Agile software development project managing the change for the business. What I experienced was chaos at times but also some great team collaboration and teamwork moments. Agile methods expect and embrace change which is driven by real-time requirements that emerge from the business. Quite different from the hierarchical waterfall projects I have worked in previously. It’s not easy but it can be done.
What’s your career critical path?
Working in large projects I hear a lot of talk about critical paths.
Put simply it’s the list of all required tasks and the estimated date to complete a project in the minimum time.
What is the relevance of this to your career development?
Let’s consider your career as the project to build a new you. It might be the new you who has the job you want or it could be one who has the breadth of skills and experience to have the right options for future roles.
Either way there is work to do. This work takes time and to have the choices you need to focus on it. To build a career you need to do things like:
- get qualifications
- learn skills
- gain experiences
These take time. Often it is easiest to broaden your experience early in your career before you cost too much or the size is too big for people to take a risk on someone unskilled. For example:
- what order makes the most sense to learn the skills of your ultimate roles? Becoming great at effective strategy with no business or implementation experience will be tough
- when do you need to develop people leadership skills? It take practice to get good at managing people. Lots of it. Start early.
- when do you need customer skills (sales, service, credit, etc?) These skills too require experience and practice which means time. Importantly these skills include general people management & operations skills like presentation, influencing & time management that will contribute to your career success
- how and when will you gain financial accountability, operational management, transformation or project leadership? Start thinking now about how you get small experiences in each of these before you next role requires it.
Everyone’s career is different. Many of these categories may not be relevant to your ambitions, so choose the ones that are. The principle I recommend is start practising the general skills and those with long lead times as early as you can.
In managing a career, it is never too late, but if you are ambitious and want to get somewhere fast, manage your critical path. The sooner you gain solid experience in the skills you need the better your options. Start building your ‘new you’ project now.