Implementing Big Data Programs/Analytics – Communicate

Analytics at WorkIn this blog series, James Brenza has been talking about implementing big data and analytics programs using a composite case study to illustrate the process. Each week James focuses on one of the seven steps giving specific examples to help illustrate how the tools can be used in a very practical manner. This is the fifth in the series that corresponds with the seven stage implementation model (shown below). More information on that robust model is available in the Innovative Leaders Workbook for Implementing Analytics Programs by Maureen Metcalf and James Brenza (scheduled for release in September 2014).

Build the communication plan: After the leader has set the direction, established the team, assessed the challenges they’ll encounter, and built a plan for success, a thorough communication plan is the next logical step. For analytic initiatives, a one-size-fits-all communication plan will not work. The communication plan must adapt to the nature of the initiative and the organization’s ability to implement the change.

While assessing the organization earlier in the process, the team should have a good understanding of the organization’s support for the change. If this is their first analytics initiative, additional communications will be necessary to build awareness of the approach and tools. For organizations that have leveraged data and analytics previously, the team still needs to provide ongoing communications to build understanding of the current effort and maintain awareness of the progress. As the team prepares for implementation, the need for adoption and operationalization will require significant communications. The key point to recognize is how the purpose of the communications will change throughout the initiative.

While the content of the communications will vary throughout the initiative, the team should try to maintain 4 consistent elements of their communication plan: frequency, depth, understanding, and follow-through.

  1. The frequency of the communications must be maintained to preserve awareness, gain buy-in, and build toward action. The sponsors and stakeholders will become conditioned to expect a regular update. This will automatically increase their awareness and moves them toward action.
  2. The depth of the communications should be consistent to ensure their engagement, but not so deep that it intimidates or triggers boredom. If a communication triggers a few requests for details, the leader should consider it a success that sponsors are reaching for a deeper understanding. If all communication recipients have questions, the communication approach will need to be revised to provide more appropriate or clear content.
  3. While it isn’t necessary that the extended team have a full technical understanding of the initiative, they need to appreciate the impact on the outcome.
  4. The last critical element of the communications is follow-through. Maintaining sponsor and stakeholder support throughout the initiative requires follow-through on all commitments for additional information or interim deliverables.

Define and reinforce a key theme: The initial communication plan must address all phases of the initiative. The purpose of the communications will vary, but the leader should establish a recurring theme. By understanding the progress of the initiative and desired outcome of the communication, the team can select the key points in each communication task and choose the most appropriate media for delivering that message. While some regularity to the communication media is ideal (e.g., monthly newsletter or weekly progress report using a consistent template), mixing the media for other communications increases interest. As the initiative progresses, a short video from stakeholders or the executive sponsor with their personal observations is a perfect way to maintain organization commitment. Videos are an extremely useful media to provide a contextual demonstration of progress without being excessively technical.

Stick with the plan: The most important part of the communication plan is to follow it. Many leaders and teams will divert their attention to “doing” the initiative and shelve the communication plan. Analytic initiatives can be a mystery to many sponsors and extended team members. Without a regular reminder of the initiative and progress update, the team is at risk of losing focus and support. So even if some of the messages aren’t great news (e.g., the initial mining of data didn’t provide the full insights anticipated), it’s more critical to maintain the awareness and transparency than compromise the communication plan in favor of quiet progress.

How is leading a big data/analytics initiative different than other projects? So let’s take a moment to focus on what’s unique about data and analytic initiatives.

  • Given the sometimes mysterious nature of analytic initiatives, it’s extremely important to plan communications and continue to execute that plan throughout the initiative.
  • That communication plan must uniquely provide continuous support for the vision while maintaining flexibility as the discovery process progresses. Since an iterative approach is being used, extended team members may not be familiar with that nuance.
  • The team should be prepared to provide regular demonstrations of progress in non-technical terms. The strength of the analytic models can be discussed, but only in terms of a business outcome.
  • Most importantly, the communication plan must continually reinforce that an analytics initiative is a journey and not a direct system implementation.

We’ve discussed many steps and teams to establish an environment for success.  In the next section we’ll discuss techniques for maintaining that success during execution.

Click to purchase the Innovative Leaders Workbook to Implementing Analytics Programs.

If you are interested in reading more by James, you may want to read:  Evaluating Big Data Projects – Success and Failure Using an Integral Lens, Integral Leadership Review August – November 2013. You can also listen to the NPR interview that accompanies this paper including a dialogue between James Brenza, Maureen Metcalf, and the host Doug Dangler.

We also invite you to join the LinkedIn group Innovative Leadership for Analytics Programs on LinkedIn curated by James.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving James’ seven part blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com IBM Curiosity shop

 

 

Implementing Big Data Programs/Analytics – Plan the Journey

analytics at workIn this blog series, James Brenza has been talking about implementing big data and analytics programs using a composite case study to illustrate the process. Each week James will focus on one of the seven steps and give specific examples to help illustrate how the tools can be used in a very practical manner. This is the fourth in the series that corresponds with the seven stage implementation model. More information on that robust model is available in the Innovative Leaders Workbook for Implementing Analytics Programs by Maureen Metcalf and James Brenza (scheduled for release in August 2014).

The leader’s plan: With a well-defined vision, scope, team, and approach that ensure an organization’s alignment, the team is now ready to create the plan. Equally important to the team’s plan is the leader’s plan to help guide the team. The previously established awareness of personal style is the leader’s starting point in their personal plan. By leveraging awareness of their individual leadership style, the leader can establish a course of actions that will maintain their focus on leveraging their strengths and more importantly filling their gaps. Building on a previous example, if the leader is going to rely on team members to maintain the vision or organization adoption of the transformation, they’ll want to establish the recurring tasks that allow them to have regular progress checks and deliverable validation. This enables them to leverage their detail orientation as well as ensure the team is covering the leader’s gap.

Cultural adoption plan: Much like the leader’s personal plan, the team should formalize the plan that builds cultural adoption of the changes. This is likely to require frequent updates and engagement with the operational stakeholders. Periodic deliverables should be included to detail progress (in non-technical, non-statistical terms) and provide complete transparency on progress. The level of transparency on progress is vital for ongoing progress updates. Similarly, conveying progress in functional terms and examples will help maintain alignment with the organization mission and planned outcomes. That transparency will continue to garner support from the teams responsible for operationalizing the outcome. If they are aware of weaknesses in the data or models, they can be prepared to address those challenges now and communicate the potential need to address similar challenges in the future.

The ongoing updates will allow multiple teams to review the related impact on other systems and processes. Since the organization will need to embrace new methods and perspectives, it will take time to adapt the related systems and processes. Even though the solutions will evolve, early warning will provide more time for changes or manual workarounds to bolster early adoption.

System and process plans: As the solution evolves, the core team, extended team, and subject matter experts should start to populate detailed implementation plans for each area that changes will impact. They can identify precise process steps and systems that will need to be updated to embrace the new processes and models. As the team identifies those changes, they can also document measurements that can be implemented with those changes to ensure the changes are beneficial and continually utilized. If additional validation is necessary, they’ll also be positioned to identify an “A-B” controlled test group to help corroborate the value of the improvements. A final element for the team to document is the development and/or acquisition of new skills that will be required. By documenting the skills, measurement of mastery, and development process, they can prepare the organization for all aspects of a successful transformation. For analytic initiatives, one of the future skills may be ongoing statistical reporting to support model refinement.

Use an Agile approach: As the team plans the actual analytic work, they should avoid the traditional “waterfall” implementation methodology. Data and analytic initiatives are extensively based on incremental discovery. The traditional approach of in-depth requirements, design, development, testing, and acceptance (which works very well for the implementation of a prescribed solution), isn’t appropriate for a process that must adapt to ongoing discovery. The team will make substantially faster progress by working in short “sprints” typically associated with Agile development methodologies. The team can break down the overall effort into pieces that are managed in two to three week steps. Each step should produce demonstrable results that sponsors can assess to confirm progress. As challenges are discovered, the steering committee and sponsors will be able to help the team refine the approach or eliminate the barriers. They’ll also be able to help the team leverage an early success to rapidly implement an early deliverable. That level of flexibility will facilitate progress and provide rewards for rapid accomplishments.

How is leading a big data/analytics initiative different than other projects? So let’s take a moment to focus on what’s unique about data and analytic initiatives.

  • Since it is not just a technical solution, it’s critical for the leader to proactively anticipate and incorporate all interdependent entities within the organization.
  • The plan must allow for multi-dimensional work, assessments and communications. The leader can define that during the planning phase, but must ensure it is embraced throughout the plan execution.
  • It is also critical to embrace an Agile implementation approach. The constant discoveries necessary for big data/analytics initiative success are not naturally facilitated in a rigorous, waterfall environment.

Since analytic initiatives follow a path of discovery, they require a significant commitment to communications.  In our next section, we’ll discuss communication plan nuances that will help the leader and team succeed.

Click to purchase the Innovative Leaders Workbook to Implementing Analytics Programs.

If you are interested in reading more by James, you may want to read:  Evaluating Big Data Projects – Success and Failure Using an Integral Lens, Integral Leadership Review August – November 2013. You can also listen to the NPR interview that accompanies this paper including a dialogue between James Brenza, Maureen Metcalf, and the host Doug Dangler.

We also invite you to join the LinkedIn group Innovative Leadership for Analytics Programs on LinkedIn curated by James.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving James’ seven part blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com analytics at work

Build Your Team & Communicate Reflection Questions Reflection Questions Part 1 – Eric’s Story

Taking responsibility for lifeI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. In the last post, we talked about how to effectively communicate and interact with different members of your support team based on their roles. In this post, we will answer a series of reflection questions to strengthen our understanding of the development and communication of our support teams. I have broken the reflection questions into two posts so the next one will contain the second half of the questions.

Eric Part 1 Communication reflection questions

The next post will focus on reflection questions relating to the culture and systems.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving Eric’s ongoing blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com chua

Build Your Team & Communicate, Part One – Eric’s Story

Everyone teachesI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. In this step, you will create a strong support group to provide insight and feedback as you pursue short-term and/or long-term goals. In this post (part of the overall step), we will review selection criteria for your support team and do a worksheet to help connect goals with potential support team members.

Support Team Selection Criteria

 When establishing selection criteria, consider that each goal may call for a different type of team member. You might use someone with lots of experience as a mentorship, or you might use someone with equal experience with whom you work together in a partnership role. Before getting into specific criteria, it is important to keep in mind that some seemingly great candidates are people who always tell you what you want to hear, and are afraid to offer constructive criticism because they think they might offend you somehow. Either avoid choosing them, or, if possible, tell them that you will need constructive criticism to grow, and that you will not be offended if they communicate feedback/criticism in a respectful way. Also consider this list of factors as a starting point to developing your support team:

  • Performance: Consider selecting people who have mastery in concepts, skills or behaviors that you would like to develop. These people may have expertise in your field or a field you would like to explore. On the other hand, these people may have strong internal abilities (EQ/resilience, motivation, etc.) or external abilities (“hard skills” such as health, fitness, productivity, time management skills, etc.). They may also be just overall good, caring and respected people.
  • Friends, Family and Roommates: People very close to you in your personal life are effective candidates because they already know about you and your past, and you have a firmly established sense of trust. You may see them on a fairly regular basis, so communication would not be an issue. They might also help you balance your goal with other commitments, such as academic, professional and family commitments, since they might already have an understanding of these aspects of your life.
  • Professors, Advisors, Consultants or Therapists: These people are independent experts in the processes of development and providing helpful feedback. They lack natural biases that some friends, family and roommates may have. These people exist in any personal and professional field that you can imagine.
  • Willingness and Ability to Commit Time to Your Development: It’s critical to understand the mutual needs of you and your support team members. Consider how a candidate can benefit from helping you and to make time for them to provide the feedback you desire. Prepare to be flexible when making plans with support team candidates. Consider volunteering in an organization that your candidate is in to establish the mutual benefit, or helping them with some task in order to expedite its completion, giving them time to provide the feedback you desire. A good example of this is an internship – you help an experienced professional with some work, and in return you get feedback and knowledge.

Support Team Worksheet

Considering the factors listed above, and your plans and goals from the previous innovative leadership steps, replicate the Support Team Worksheet in Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheet, and then fill in your answers. Save it on a cloud storage program for more convenience. My answers are in italics.

Eric Support Worksheet

Now you have an idea of what type of support you need based on your goals, and criteria to help you select the ideal support team. The next part in the Build Your Team & Communicate process is the communication part. Communication is vital to effective leadership. In the next post, you’ll learn how to effectively communicate with each support team member, no matter how diverse your support team is.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving Eric’s ongoing blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Celestine Chua

Plan Your Career Development Journey Reflection Questions – Eric’s Story

I’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. In my last post we did an in-depth analysis on our short-term goals to help reach our next career milestones and discovered effective time management techniques. Now we will fine-tune our short-term goals by answering specific reflection questions. In accordance to the nature of innovative leadership, we not only consider how our personal development goals impact ourselves, but we also consider how they impact our organizations.

Reflection Questions for Plan

We have reached the end of the Plan Your Journey step. This is the third of the six processes of developing innovative leadership – you’re halfway there! As you can see in the graphic below, the next topic is Build Your Team & Communicate, in which we will create a group of mentors and partners to help us before we go all-out in the Take Action step.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving Eric’s ongoing blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Implementing Big Data Programs – Building Your Team

Big Data and AnalyticsThis blog series is written by guest blogger and co-author James Brenza. James is the Chief Data Officer for Labor Genome. He is also Vice President, Data and Analytics Practice at Pillar Technology.  He provides over 20 years of technology leadership to drive the use of data and analytics for sustainable competitive advantage.

In this series James has been talking about implementing big data and analytics programs using a composite case study to illustrate the process. Each week he will focus on one of the seven steps giving specific examples to help illustrate how the tools can be used in a very practical manner. This is the second of the series that corresponds with the seven stage implementation model (shown below). More information on that robust model is available in the Innovative Leaders Workbook for  Implementing Analytics Programs by Maureen Metcalf and James Brenza (scheduled for release in August 2014).

Leading Organizational Transformation

Define the teams: When leading an analytic initiative, you can start to build your team after you’ve defined the vision and scope, and gained sponsor and stakeholder support. It’s actually more appropriate to say you can start building your teams (plural). Unlike more definitive initiatives, it’s critical to build teams that include the sponsors, steering committee, project team, extended team members, and subject matter experts. To help identify the necessary teams, you can review the data sources previously identified, the type of analytics to produce, the outcomes to be produced, and the measurements identified.

The different teams identified will serve very distinct purposes. The sponsors will be required to meet monthly to help ensure you remain aligned with the organization mission and the initiative vision. They will also be very effective at breaking down high-level barriers. The steering committee should be prepared to meet on, at least, a biweekly basis. Steering committee members that meet frequently will be uniquely positioned to more deeply understand your progress as well as help remove barriers. Another key role for the steering committee members is to provide ongoing communications and updates to sponsors and stakeholders.

The core project team must absolutely embrace all of the core functions necessary to implement the initiative.  This will include ingesting large volumes of data, integrating data, establishing data quality, formalizing data definitions, building analytic models, assessing the strength of the models, tuning the models, training the models, and creating the new business processes so the business value can be realized.  To be successful, the core team will also need to have extended team members. The extended team members will need to include subject matter experts for the data, the IT infrastructure, the statistical models, and the business processes.

Select team members: When selecting your team members, it will help significantly to create a selection matrix. The rows of the matrix should list specifically identified team member candidates, and the columns represent key selection criteria that the members must exhibit. The selection criteria can include areas of expertise, communication, teamwork, credibility, trust, culture, commitment and developmental perspective. As you assess each team member across the selection criteria, it’s important to make sure you have adequate coverage over all columns. If a candidate has many gaps across the columns, it’s appropriate to select a different team member, or find a second representative to help augment that team member.  For any gaps in the coverage for either team members or columns, the leader should consider adding or substituting team members to ensure complete coverage.

For analytic initiatives, the selection of the data scientist is critical. You need to make sure you’re embracing strategic focus, data management, quantitative analysis, business acumen, communication, and problem-solving skills. Attempting to find all of these skills in one individual can be nearly impossible. So rather than hunt for unicorns, the leader can be more successful by focusing on building a small, highly cohesive team—of at least three individuals—to cover all of these areas.

Define the sponsor management plan: After the core project team has been assembled, they can create the sponsor management plan. The sponsor management plan will augment the detailed implementation plan with a list of activities for every sponsor and stakeholder, when an activity should occur, the outcome expected from that activity, and the specific messages that need to be delivered. This will be a precursor to the communication plan that will be developed in subsequent steps. After the plan has been drafted it can be compared to the original list of data sources, analytics, desired outcomes and measures to ensure all aspects of the initiative have been addressed.

How is leading a big data/analytics initiative different than other projects? So let’s take a moment to focus on what’s unique about data and analytic initiatives.

  • Due to the analytic nature of the initiative, the team requires extensive balance far beyond traditional teams. These dynamic elements can include:
    • Broad diversity of talents that must incorporate technology, analytics and business acumen
    • Flexibility to collaborate and respond rapidly to opportunities and challenges
    • Ability to simultaneously manage and be managed by multiple organizations.
  • That balance needs to include the vision, technical and business acumen, communication, and extensive subject matter expert involvement. Many other initiatives do not need to encompass this many dimensions.
  • This will create a unique challenge for the leader to make sure they’re keeping this in mind at all times and ensuring all team members stay fully engaged throughout the initiative.

Defining the team is one of the first challenges. In our next section, we’ll discuss how to assess the situation and strengths to help the team succeed throughout implementation.

Click to purchase the Innovative Leaders Workbook to Implementing Analytics Programs.

If you are interested in reading more by James, you may want to read:  Evaluating Big Data Projects – Success and Failure Using an Integral Lens, Integral Leadership Review August – November 2013. You can also listen to the NPR interview that accompanies this paper including a dialogue between James Brenza, Maureen Metcalf, and the host Doug Dangler.

We also invite you to join the LinkedIn group Innovative Leadership for Analytics Programs on LinkedIn curated by James.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving James’ seven part blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com by Mike Pluta

Plan Your Career Development Journey Part 2 – Eric’s Story

IGoals’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. In the last post we discussed identifying a skill/behavior that you would like to improve in order to help you reach your next career milestone, with the understanding that our long-term life goals are made up of a series of short-term goals. In this post, you’ll clearly identify the skill/behavior you’d like to improve upon, and then create a plan outlining how the current state of that skill, future goal, daily routine/actions, deadline for completion and a way to measure progress.

Your goal should be S.M.A.R.T.

We recommend that your goal be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (S.M.A.R.T.).

  • Specific: clearly defined. When goals are specific, or clearly defined, it is easier to know when they are reached. Specify the goal by clarifying what exactly is expected, why it is important, who is involved and where it will happen.
    • For example: I want to increase my focus/productivity by 200%, independently, each month, during internship/work hours, because I will be able to get twice as much work done and be better prepared for when I enter the workforce upon graduation.
  • Measurable: establish criteria for measuring the progress of each goal. This shows what and how much change we are expecting.
    • Focus/productivity will be measured in how many tasks I accomplish during work hours each day. Let’s say I complete two big tasks each day; I will focus on limiting distractions/overthinking so that I eventually complete four big tasks each day
  • Attainable: identify goals that are truly most important to you, you begin to find ways to make them come true. You develop attitudes, abilities and financial capacity to reach them. You begin to see opportunities you otherwise may not see as you realize the importance of such goals. “Attainable”, in this case, refers to how reasonable the goal is overall, regardless of your personal ability to do it.
    • Doubling daily productivity, or reducing time to accomplish each task, in one month is attainable for many people in my situation. Many interns can do that as they develop knowledge and skill in their work.
  • Realistic: to be realistic, the goal has to be something you are personally willingand able to work toward. You are the one who determines when it is completed, so make sure it is something you can realistically accomplish. “Realistic”, in this case, differs from “attainable” because it specifies whether you have the capacity to accomplish the goal. There may be something unique about you, making you better/worse at accomplishing a task than most people in your situation. If too easy, increase to difficulty or tighten the deadline. If too hard, decrease difficulty or push back the deadline, but only after you’ve actually tried it for a bit – don’t give up too easily!
    • Doubling daily productivity is realistic for me because I am increasing my knowledge and skill of my work at a higher rate than I could have ever anticipated.
  • Timely: goals that lack time frames also lack urgency. When setting the time frame, set an actual number or defined period of time, like “one month” or “one school year”. Don’t just say “soon”, “ASAP”, or “eventually”. Would you rather your professors tell you “You have an exam soon!” or “You have your exam one week from today”?
    • “One month from today” is a defined period of time.

Make sure your goal is written down in a way that meets the S.M.A.R.T. criteria. Next, we will use the Development Planning Worksheet. This chart should be simple enough for you to make in Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheet. Follow my lead:

Eric's development planning worksheet

I highly recommend using a digital calendar with cloud capabilities and managing your time well. This link will help you manage your time during the academic semester: http://howtostudyincollege.com/time/. While the link specifies making time for studying, it is still a great time management strategy and it will help you find time for any goals of yours.

Now you have a great sense of your short-term goals and your strategy to reach them, plus some potentially life-altering time management advice! In the next post, you will be provided reflection questions regarding the entire process of planning your journey. After that, you should have a very firm understanding of how to plan your journey as an innovative leader and outstanding college student.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving Eric’s ongoing blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Plan Your Career Development Journey – Eric’s Story

Journey withinI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. I just completed the reflection questions associated with identifying my strengths and opportunities. It is now time to move to plan our journeys understanding that our overall life goals will be achieved by accomplishing many short-term goals. This is the third step in becoming an innovative leader while you’re young.

Short-term goals may consist of milestones that move you closer to your overall achievement, such as internships, degrees, jobs, or promotions. Other short-term goals, which are equally important, consist of personal development, such as learning new skills/behaviors, building on current strengths and minimizing weaknesses. The goals of personal development are very important because as you make progress through your academic and professional careers, you’ll have greater responsibilities and bigger challenges. That being said, to plan the short-term steps that will lead you to the long-term life goal, we must identify which career milestones we will need to get us there, and then choose which personal development goals to accomplish to help us reach the nearest milestone. For each milestone in your life, you may need to create new personal development goals. To optimize personal development (for short-term and long-term), one must include in his plan all four parts of the human experience: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual/purpose.

Short-term Goals: Career Milestones

As you’ve done for previous posts, research and list the steps it takes to get that “dream job”, or long-term goal. Then identify the nearest goal. For example:

    • My Goal: Marketing/management consultant and founder of a nonprofit
  • My Milestones:
    • Do marketing/consulting internships
    • Graduate with relevant degree and great GPA
    • Get marketing/consulting job upon graduation
    • Go to graduate school for MBA
    • Get a great job in marketing/consulting
    • After sufficient experience, create a highly successful nonprofit organization
  • Nearest goal: Job upon graduation

Short-term Goals: Personal Development

Look at your nearest goal, and think of everything you can possibly learn, strengthen and/or fix to achieve the nearest milestone. This will help you find which personal development goals to set to reach the next milestone. The human experience consists four parts: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual/purpose abilities. Enhancing all four of these types of abilities, you will optimize overall personal growth. We separate these four parts into two categories:

  • External abilities (physical and mental):
    • Body: exercise, weight lifting, yoga, relaxation, etc.
    • Mind: reading, studying, attending school/class, etc.
    • Professional skills, learned at school, work, internships, etc.; relevant to your career.
  • Internal abilities (emotional and spiritual/purpose) –
    • Emotional Quotient (EQ): meditation, maintaining strong friendships/relationships, etc.
    • Spirit/purpose: define vision, define values, religious practice, etc.
    • Includes intention, world view, purpose, vision, values, cultural norms, emotional stability, resilience, a sense of being grounded, overall personal well-being, intuition, balanced perspective, and attitude, and serves as the foundation for you to accomplish your deepest aspirations.

According to Ken Wilber, a leading philosopher, one can optimize improvement in one of these areas by “cross training”, or working on an external skill at the same time as an internal skill. For example, people who lift weights (external) and meditate (internal) tend to have more success in both areas than those who only do one or the other.

Planning Personal Development Goals

Choose amongst three developmental focuses: learning a brand new skill/behavior, building on a current strength, or minimizing a weakness. After you pick something to develop in one of those three focus areas, identify whether it is an internal or external ability, and then pick an activity that is the opposite ability for the sake of optimization by cross training. Click here to download the worksheet below (which doesn’t have my answers on it) and fill it out like I did. Feel free to view my answers to maybe better understand the question, or just to get more ideas.

behavior change priorities

Over the next few days, choose a skill and think about how great your life can be if you gain/improve it. In the next post, we’ll make a day-to-day plan for developing that skill to help you reach your next career milestone.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving Eric’s ongoing blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Reflecting on Your Strengths and Weaknesses – Eric’s Story

I’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. I recently completed a series of assessments and the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis.  As usual, I like to finish each topic with some reflection questions. The “What do I believe” quadrant represents intentions, and “What do I do” represents actual behaviors. The “what do we believe” section refers to what our student organization, community, or major/department believe. And the “How do we do this” section refers to systems or processes of that organization, community, group, etc. In my answers, I am using the context of a competitive student-organization, in which I am an emerging leader among students, and there are hired professionals at top management.

Eric Strength Reflection Questions

Next week, we will cover the third step in becoming successful as a college student and as a leader – planning your journey. Do as many of the assessments as you can, so you have a full understanding of yourself, your strengths, and your situation going into the planning of your journey.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving Eric’s ongoing blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Analyze Strengths and Weaknesses – Eric’s Story

I’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. I recently completed a series of assessments and now I will analyze the information. Gather what you’ve learned about yourself into the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis tool. This is a great tool that you can use at any time, for many different situations. You can use it n the context of your career plans and some athletes I know use it for their sports also.

Eric SWOT

Real World Application

It helps to take several different assessments to give me different views of myself.  I recommend taking all of the assessments, especially those that are free. After screen capturing or printing the results, read them very carefully to see how you could apply the results to your daily life. Remember to put 80% of your focus on strengths, and 20% on weaknesses. Perhaps take some time Monday through Thursday to focus on a different strength each day, and on Friday focus on a weakness. For example, Monday I’ll play to my groups strengths based on the vibrancy assessment, Tuesday I’ll focus on how to use my “Peacemaker” abilities from the Enneagram, and so on. On Friday I’ll focus on mitigating the weaknesses and threats from my SWOT assessment. Do that, and you may see yourself becoming more comfortable as a leader.

In the next post, I will answer the reflection questions about what I learned during the assessments and SWOT analysis.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving Eric’s ongoing blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.