In the post Why change can slap you in the face and blind-side your career, we discussed the two main factors that are changing the world: Globalization and the rate of change – speed.
It is important to note this is not your father’s globalization. It is not even the globalization you knew ten years ago. Globalization has evolved from the trade of goods into an extremely elaborate interdependence that includes the commerce and exchange of knowledge, ideas, and information. In this new world, professionals and knowledge workers compete with little barriers across the globe. It is a game changer for both individuals and organizations.
This new world has created an unprecedented level of competition that was intensified by the shrinking markets brought on by the great recession. The combination of global competition and shrinking markets triggered the need for innovation at a speed the world had not experienced before.
Now, before we continue, let’s pause to clarify the often confused term innovation. Creativity is not innovation. Something new is not innovation. Both are required to achieve innovation, but they are not innovation.
Innovation requires a strong base of knowledge and depth in a subject matter. Innovation is the next step in the evolution of a subject, a product, or a service. Innovation seldom comes without a firm foundation. Albert Einstein once said, “It is not that I am so smart, it is just that I stay with problems longer .” Real innovation requires that level of focus, commitment, and dedication.
Globalization and the speed at which innovation is happening are forcing organizations to focus and commit like never before. They are not just focusing on their core competencies they are narrowing down their core competencies to guarantee the resources required to achieve their goals. There is no margin for error, and any half-effort is a wasted effort.
This equation is transforming the market, and it is transforming your career. Two things will have a tremendous impact on you:
Specialization and Focus
The patience for learning curves is disappearing. The typical strategic planning and execution cycle for these organizations is shrinking, and talent that is willing to learn and put in the effort is not enough. Hiring for attitude is no longer an option. Both aptitude and attitude are required.
When you get hired in this economy, the company will expect you to make an immediate impact.
You too are going to have to determine your core competencies and narrow them down so you can focus and pour resources into them to become an expert and leader in your field. Yes, this will narrow your options, but you do not have a choice if you want to compete in this market. There is no room for average. Remember Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid? “Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later get squish just like grape.” To paraphrase (fill in the blank with what defines you):
Either you do ___________ “yes” or __________ do “no.”
You do ____________ “guess so,” sooner or later get squish just like grape. It might sound counter-intuitive but narrowing your options will expand your opportunities by being stronger and more competitive in what you do.
You are on your own
Most organizations will not admit it. You will seldom hear it. However, I am sure you can see it and feel it. You are on your own.
Long term for many organizations is five years. The average tenure of a Fortune 500 CEO is just 4.6 years (1). Budgets are tight, and few can feel sure about what is going to happen in their markets and how they are going to react to it. The career ladder is broken.
Don’t get me wrong. There are great organizations that have outstanding career development and succession programs. However, those programs are built within the context of their strategy and your potential within the organization. Their focus is not to prepare you for a career outside the organization.
As a consequence, don’t expect the organization you work for to plan your career, establish your direction and pay for training you need to achieve your long-term goals. Sure, they will train you on what they need to achieve short term goals. However, don’t expect to be trained on something that does not have a brief and direct return on investment.
(1) “Why your CEO could be in trouble.” By David Weidner. The Wall Street Journal.
About Alder Koten
Alder Koten helps shape organizations through a combination of research, executive search, cultural & leadership assessment, and other talent advisory services. Our recruiters and executive search consultants bring to the recruiting process an in-depth understanding of the market conditions and strategic talent issues faced by clients within their particular industry. Our leadership consultants provide advisory services that are crafted to be collaborative, responsive, pragmatic, and results oriented. Focused on expanding the capabilities of the organization through talent.