It’s the end of the year in a few days. Just before I went out on holiday break I finished documenting my accomplishments for the past year. I actually like taking some time before the New Year to take stock – not just of my own work, but also of the broader landscape. A friend forwarded me this timely blog, “2013 was a lost year for tech” by Christopher Mims. His assessment of the tech industry is that it was a dud in 2013. Whether you believe things are really this bad or not, it’s still a pretty good wake up call for those of us in tech who want to continue to do amazing things with technology.
And with any wake up call, some sort of change on the part of companies and individuals alike is required. Change is a funny thing. It is hard, and the less you embrace it and the more you resist making the minor transitions in your work (or any part of your life), the harder it gets to make the really big, important changes.
I think there are a lot of people in the corporate tech environment who have been complacent and now find themselves behind on making changes such as adopting new business models, leveraging new communication platforms (i.e., social and collaboration) or applying other new trends. If you missed key opportunities in your business or your career, what can you do?
You can reinvent yourself and revitalize the work you do. Starting now.
Look for innovative ideas to apply
The first thing to do is to step back from your area of expertise in tech, and shift into learning mode. Be curious. Take some time to look at the bigger picture and get some context and inspiration from adjacent industries, education, arts or where ever. What are new trends that could help you leap ahead or open doors for you? How can you apply new ideas, trends or technologies to really make a difference in what you do – or what you want to do? What inspires you?
Assess your resources
Then you have to do some kind of self or business assessment – it doesn’t have to be overly formal, just brutally honest. Do you have the skills and knowledge required for the opportunities you have identified? Ask others to help give you feedback, if you need. You know are going to have make some changes, so start with a list of your assets, skills and gaps. Also, identify people who you could collaborate with to fill the gaps. Build a base of supporters with a shared understanding of what you are doing and why. Ask for help from them when you need it.
Be positive, set goals and plan
You will need to set goals for the kind of new breakthrough changes you want to make. Identify some concrete things you need to do to reach the goals and state your intention so you are clear why you are doing it. Then turn that list into a positive Reinvention Plan.
Here is my personal Reinvention Plan for 2014. I included a reminder for each with my intention and why it matters.
- Be myself and don’t be afraid to put myself out there. Contributing is important to me. I started this blog as a way of affirming who I am and sharing what I know with others.
- Do more things outside of my comfort zone. It’s easy to get too comfortable. Now I am raising my hand for some new projects related to IT strategy and crowdsourcing. It’s better to be out in front. You can always learn as you go.
- Be choosy about what projects I take. I want to work on valued, transformative projects in IT versus getting bogged down by just doing more and more of the status quo. It’s okay to say no once in a while, as long as you are reaching higher.
- Follow my heart. I’m part of the Women’s Center for Leadership, a non-profit group in Portland, because I believe that anyone can learn and apply leadership skills to whatever they do. I think educated, empowered people can change the world. And volunteering in my local community is important to me.
- Manage my energy. Do things that give me energy, not things that drain me. I know I will have to say no to some requests or re-prioritize some of my work, but it’s important to have energy to apply when needed.
- Stay modern. I don’t believe in hanging out in generational camps. I feel personally obligated to span generations and work with everyone from baby boomers to millennials. Part of being modern is being open-minded and adaptive.
We can keep the tech industry from being a dud in 2014. We will have to stretch and embrace doing new things. I am using my own Reinvention Plan to guide the choices I make about my work in 2014 and to help me contribute in ways that will really make a difference.
What if everyone in tech would take some time over the New Year break to take stock, be curious, set some lofty goals and develop their own plan to reinvent themselves?
What would your reinvention plan look like?