In the past few months, I have written on the movement to cloud computing, as well as the concept of agility within your business environment. This month, I will cover the topic of career change management. At a high level, I will compare and contrast your career and ability to deal with change to that of the virtualization race that is taking place in today’s technology marketplace.
Virtualization is the concept of creating an abstraction layer so that computing systems (business applications, operating systems, etc.) can run in a new environment. As the environment becomes abstracted from the work being performed, it becomes less relevant. The important elements—the work being completed—can be performed anywhere: at the office, at your house, at Starbucks, at your current employer’s business or at their biggest competitor's.
Now, think about this concept of virtualization at the personal level. How can you create an abstraction layer? How can you create an environment where You Inc. can run? Perhaps at a different level, a different pace or even in a different place? How can you virtualize your knowledge, skill sets and experiences to take control of where your workflow “runs”?
Change comes to all of us in many ways. Sometimes it is thrust upon us, and we must deal with it. Other times, we are the implementer of change—we act as the change agent itself. Sometimes we know change is coming—we can sense it, taste it and feel it, and we make conscious decisions on how to deal with it. This could be head-on, as in a “Clash of Titans,” or it could be a “roll-with-the-punches” situation. Perhaps it is a situation that is turning for the worst, and it’s a “bail-and-run” situation.
As we examine virtualization from a technology perspective, we find that it has several goals—centralizing tasks, and providing the ability to scale and increase overall workloads. Sounds kinda like your business environment, eh? Businesses today are continuing to centralize “routine” or administrative tasks. The phrase “do more with less” has been tossed about for years, but is more prevalent now than ever. There is pressure from every direction to improve your scalability, to increase your work load. “Do more with less….” So how do you cope? From the c-level down to the individual performer, it’s time to have your game on…You need to virtualize your career!
Career virtualization is an important concept for you to consider. The competition for your “workflow” or your “work unit” is definitely global. Employers have outsourced and continually consider those options. You must evaluate your own options.
As the baby boomers migrate out of the workforce and the next generation takes over, there are gaps in talent and sheer number of resources. Large, significant gaps. Looking back at history, the initial strengths of our country’s great melting pot provided opportunity for immigrants. Immigration is to chase the American dream—and it is coming on strong. Global. Mobile. Talented. That is your competition. How are you positioned to take advantage of these new competitive threats—these new opportunities? From Peoria to Malaysia to Singapore to Russia, your next opportunity may come from there…if not, be prepared for the next opportunity for You Inc. You must virtualize your career.
What does career virtualization mean? I recently submitted the following definition to Wikipedia for consideration: Career virtualization means packaging your skill sets, your experiences and your thought leadership in a manner that creates an abstraction layer between you and your current employer.
“This ain’t your father’s Oldsmobile” (career), and it ain’t the ‘50s. I can pretty much guarantee that none of you will work for the same company for the next 30 years. Pensions are gone. The past promise of stability may have faded away, but with change and uncertainty come new chances and opportunities. This is your time. Create your abstraction layer. Enable your career to run virtualized. Perhaps you will run virtualized at the same company for 10 or 20 years, but you will have options, flexibility and agility.
Your bosses and business owners won’t invest in your virtualization—you have to enable that yourself. Take the lead. Virtualize your career. Protect your career. Without virtualizing your career, you will not have the same opportunities. You will not have the same flexibility. You will not have the same control.
Your virtualization will be specific to your given set of experiences, skills and circumstances. Abstract your project management skills—get PMI certified. Abstract your networking technology skills—get Cisco certified. Abstract your inventory control business knowledge—get APICS certified. Reinvent your current company skills into a marketable position. Take that knowledge of your current business’ call center management process—and get CIAC certified. Leverage that knowledge of Siebel software—become a Seibel Certified Consultant.
In technology-land, upgrades require time and money. To virtualize a technology environment is no trivial task. The organization may need to acquire blade servers, storage networks and the virtualizing software (a hypervisor) itself. To virtualize your career will require your time and your money as well. But with an investment in your virtualization position, you can create your own abstraction layer. Create your own “hypervisor” options with flexibility and velocity.
Create that separation from your specific company role and parlay that into a position that is virtualized across the industry and marketplace. Create your own scalability. Create your own mobility. Create your own velocity. It’s a global, competitive marketplace. Be ready for judgment day. As you work on your personal virtualization strategy—getting certified, obtaining secondary degrees and professional acclaims—you can be dedicated to delivering for your current organization, but begin with the end in mind. Create options. Create marketability. Create confidence.
In the end, it’s all about being capable of dealing with change. Make no mistake, change is coming at you. Be proactive? Be reactive? Whatever…But just like technology, parallel your career to the market space and get virtualized! Enable your career to have greater velocity—to be able to spin up faster under different “software” (management), under different “hardware” (companies), under different “networks” (global regions). Career virtualization—put it on your career plan now! Let me know your thoughts via Twitter at twitter.com/GregJohnsonCTO. iBi