you’ve been thinking about an idea for a while now. a new product, a new service, or maybe just updates to an older one. it’s been on your mind, in your dreams, and manifested itself in doodles during long and uninteresting conference calls. it has a name, it has a logo, it has a color scheme and all the things we like to give our ideas to make them seem more alive.
but it’s not alive yet.
it’s still an idea. it’s still on paper. it’s still waiting for you to make a go of it. it’s still waiting for you to get over the fear of trying. time’s wasting, and time is money. you can’t afford to wait any longer; some things in life are that important.
time to go to work.
… at least as we know it.
we’re living in a very interesting time where technology is becoming ever more democratized. the things that were rare once are available to almost anyone today. high-speed internet, large data processing centers, fast and efficient computing devices are each everyday items now which only just years ago were reserved for the most wealthy among us.
this democratization has given rise to a new generation of entrepreneurs who are changing the technology market, perhaps for good. software as a service is allowing organizations to increase their technology portfolios instantly at a cheaper cost than long-term custom built solutions. not only can you get software as a service, but you can get data centers as a service as well. no more need for a large data warehouse to store your information when amazon web services, microsoft azure, and others offer scalable solutions again at a fraction of the cost.
most technology consultants never cared about the actual organizational problems that exist because they made their money by treating the symptoms. but with so many technology solutions moving to the internet, there are countless options to choose from for organizations—who are only looking to buy cheap band-aids—which not only work on their systems but even on the everyday devices their people use.
technology consultants can’t offer band-aids anymore. we need to get to the root of the issue. it’s about time for a change in the way we work. time to get back to the basics.
time to get back to true consulting.
and how do you know?
as free agents in sports test the open market, why don’t business professionals also test the market? it’s there you’ll discover what other organizations believe you are worth, both in terms of salary but also in terms of responsibility.
are you actually underpaid, or are your skills just not in high enough demand to expect the kind of salary you envision? are you not getting that promotion internally because of political reasons, or are you just not operating at that next level yet? you can learn a lot about who you are if you get out there and look around. you will start to see yourself the way other people outside of your organization see you. there’s tremendous growth that will come from that.
they say the best time to look for a new job is when you already have one. i say the best time to look for a new job is when you don’t even want one.
always test the market. always know what you’re worth.
there have been a lot of articles online lately about the exodus of teens from facebook. interview after interview, more and more teenagers are citing the fact that their parents and even grandparents are on the same social network making the service uncool. who wants nana knowing about your crazy night out?
then you look at the popularity of snapchat—the ‘here today, gone 15 seconds from now’ picture messaging app created by a couple of 20-something stanford university drop-outs who stand to make billions of dollars—and it’s no surprise as to why it’s popular among those very teens who are flocking away from facebook. without a trail left behind, you can do whatever and be whomever you want without the fear of mom and dad watching in.
while there are obvious safety implications to consider, it still raises a very interesting question: in a world increasingly marked by companies and services promoting openness and unfettered sharing of data, is privacy the next killer app?
messing up is pretty much guaranteed. owning up is optional.
apologizing for a mistake is hard to do, especially when you were so convinced of your rightness when you made that mistake. it takes a lot of gumption to own up to poor choices.
but it’s amazing how much leadership you can show and how much trust you can gain in the difficult moments when you stand up and say, “that was me. i was wrong, and i apologize.”
that nasty phrase. we all have to go through them every year (if not more often than that). chances are you’re gearing up for one right now. part of your duty as a team member is to be involved in these reviews for others as a source of input. you may be interviewed or fill out a survey or just jot some notes down in an email to a manager, but in all instances there is usually a section in which you’re asked where people can improve.
it’s the part we hate. nobody really likes giving negative feedback about a friend—not generally at least—but it’s not just feedback about them. it’s also feedback about you. that’s what makes this section so important.
the next time you’re creating a list of items that someone else could be working on to get better, to improve themselves and their work, think to yourself about what you might be doing which may be hindering that person’s growth in those areas. think about what you’re not doing which is leading to that gap in performance and expectations. think about what you could be doing to help that person get better.
the healthcare.gov issue we’ve seen in america is just one item in a long line of failed software projects, especially in the public sector. to hear clay johnson of the new york times tell it, the problem is that the government doesn’t have a central ‘technical brain’. perhaps there is some truth to that, but there are a few key roadblocks to achieving such a goal.
how do you recruit the best brains in industry and young adults in university to trade the perks of life with a tech company in silicon valley for the life of a federal employee on the beltway where politicians shut down the government recreationally? work at google and get free massages, or work for a federal agency and get furloughed; which would you choose?
the government doesn’t currently have the proper operating model to recruit and retain the best and brightest. with government jobs, time in position means more than merit. ideas are pushed down through the hierarchy rather than growing from the bottom-up organically. software designers and developers get two to three times less pay (or even less than that) for the same set of skills and level of experience that they could get working in the private sector. not many technical workers will accept those terms of employment.
if the government—or any organization—wants to get the best outputs it needs the best inputs. in the industrial age, that meant having the best raw materials and the most efficient processes. however, in a post-industrial economy, that means having the best ideas and the most creativity in problem solving. in a post-industrial economy, that means getting the best talent.