Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Solution Focus: A case-study framework for dynamic career growth


By Matthew Moran

Do you hear that sound? The rushing of wind past your ears? That's the sound of 2004 whooshing away. As we start the New Year, no half-hearted attempts at fad diets and exercise machines here, just some advice to help you prepare for career growth in 2005.

I don't want to frame this as a New Year's resolution, because it isn't. This is just planning and preparation to ensure you're prepared as the year approaches, proceeds, and passes.

One of the challenges in career development is ensuring we track and log what we've done. A myriad of technical projects and ongoing tasks often blur into a single item we call "work" or "our job". The danger is that in the doing, we often overlook or forget what we've done.

Later, when it comes time for our review, or we go to update our resume, we scratch our head in confusion. We're unable to answer some fundamental questions about our performance.

What did I accomplish this past year? What was the value to my employer or client? What new skills did I master?

Within these questions lay the solution to this problem.

I teach sales people, mostly in the service sector, a technique and strategy called "Solution Selling: A Case-study Approach". However, this is more than a slick way to land a deal. It's actually the method I used as an employee to ensure that both my employer and I were aware of, and remained focused on, the value of the solutions I was providing. And therein lies the first key idea.

You're a solution provider!

Consultants and contractors tend to understand this better than the staff technologist. This is simply due to the fact that technologists in those roles are always one step away from the door, and must constantly justify their existence in the corporate structure.

But staff technologists should understand this as well. You are, ultimately, under the same dictate as the consultant. You must provide value -- not just hard work. To do so, envision yourself as a solution-provider -- a company within a company.

What do you do to ensure that you provide value? What do you do to guarantee the satisfaction of your client, your employer?